Written on Monday, November 12, 2007 by Gemini
Thiruvananthapuram: An outbreak of the chikungunya virus in Kerala has prompted researchers to develop a new diagnostic test to distinguish chikungunya from dengue viruses.
The kit works as early as the second day of symptoms, whereas conventional tests can only detect antibodies a week after infection.Distinguishing between the two diseases is difficult as both have initial symptoms of fever and joint pains, and both are spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The test uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods that rapidly produce thousands of copies of a gene. It contains two sets of gene probes – one common to all four types of dengue, and another specific to chikungunya. This is the first test that detects dengue and chikungunya viruses at once, say scientists at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB).
The scientists tested 120 patients’ blood samples and accurately picked out four cases of dengue and the remaining chikungunya cases, says Easwaran Sreekumar, a researcher at RGCB’s Department of Molecular Microbiology.