Researchers Develop Better, Cheaper, Faster Zika Test

时间 : 1970-01-01 08:00来源 : VOA官网 收听下载次数 :
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

A team of researchers say they have developed a new test for Zika virus.

They say the test can provide results quickly and costs less than other testing methods. It can also be easily transported, giving health care workers a way to diagnose the virus almost anywhere in the world.

The Zika outbreak started about a year ago when health officials in Brazil began reporting cases of people being infected. Now, nearly 60 countries and territories have reported Zika cases.

Most of those infected are thought to have been bitten by mosquitoes. The insects can carry the Zika virus. Some countries also have reported cases that appear to have spread through sexual contact.

The World Health Organization says the world could face a severe public health crisis if the virus continues spreading.

The WHO says scientists agree that Zika is the cause of two serious conditions: the nervous system disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome and the birth defect microcephaly. Babies with the birth defect have an unusually small head. Children with severe microcephaly usually do not live long.

How is the new test better?

The new test is the result of work by researchers at Harvard University in the United States. The researchers built upon earlier work on a method to test for Ebola virus.

James Collins is a synthetic biologist. He led the team that created a way to test body fluids for Zika virus. The test is designed for blood, urine and saliva.

But why develop a new method in the first place?

The researchers explained their reasoning in a report in the journal Cell. In it they said that other test methods are limited. Most importantly, they say, these methods are not exact.

The other tests look for antibodies in body fluids. But these antibodies are similar to other viruses such as Dengue. The researchers add that the other methods can also be costly. And they require special equipment that is not available in some areas.

The new testing method uses paper