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PCR-diagnostics of Zika virus is very efficient — Russian consumer rights watchdog

February 18, 18:47 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Russian government discusses with the WHO using PCR-diagnostics of the Zika virus developed by Russian scientists for monitoring the state of health of Russian athletes during the Olympics in Rio
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© Dmitriy Rogulin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 18. /TASS/. The system of the PCR-diagnostics of the Zika virus developed in Russia has proved to be very effective, head of Russia’s consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova told TASS on Thursday.

She said that this diagnostic system, which was developed in the Institute of Epidemiology, "is currently applied in a test mode, it is used in three institutes in Russia". "This system has proved to be very effective and giving a clear answer whether there is the antigen, i.e., a virus or its part in the body fluids," the Rospotrebnadzor head said.

The Russian government at present discusses with the World Health Organization (WHO) the question of using PCR-diagnostics of the Zika virus developed by Russian scientists for monitoring the state of health of Russian athletes during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 2016.

"WHO has requested us to provide the laboratories that are ready today for research, primarily for the CIS countries, and once again expressed an interest in our mobile units. WHO has been given the relevant information and the discussion is going on," Popova said.

The first case of importation of the Zika virus in Russia was registered on February 15. The virus was found in a woman who arrived in Moscow from the Dominican Republic. According to Rospotrebnadzor, the patient's condition is satisfactory, none of the family members with whom she was in contact has contracted the virus.

Most people diseased with the fever caused by the Zika virus may not know that they are infected, Popova said. "In 80% of cases the disease caused by the Zika virus may be asymptomatic. People may even not know that they are ill," she said.

On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said Russia was discussing with the World Health Organization the implementation of a new way of diagnosing Zika virus developed by Russian scientists. The Summer Olympic Games will be held between August 5 and 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, where Zika fever virus is raging. Russian scientists have proposed polymerase chain reaction diagnosing, which studies smaller parts of human’s DNA and simplifies verification of the virus on early stages. "We are currently discussing it," Golodets said. "Our experts are actively cooperating with the WHO specialists and it is vital for us to ensure our security."

Zika virus was isolated in 1947 in the Zika forest of Uganda. Last May, it began to spread rapidly in Brazil, then gaining ground in other countries of South and North America. Health officials report the virus has penetrated 21 out of 55 countries in the western hemisphere.

The virus, transmitted by mosquitos, causes high temperature, pink eye, headaches and malaise, joint pains, sometimes nausea and stomach pains.

The virus, which has no preventative vaccine, often shows no signs of symptoms in adults but it can be extremely dangerous to unborn children. Thousands of women infected with Zika virus have given birth to babies affected by microcephaly and other defects.

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