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J Med Virol. 2012 Sep;84(9):1501-5. doi: 10.1002/jmv.23241.

A diagnostic polymerase chain reaction assay for Zika virus.

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Division of Microbiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, National University Hospital, Singapore.


Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus. Infection results in a dengue-like illness with fever, headache, malaise, and a maculopapular rash. Nearly all cases are mild and self-limiting but in 2007, a large outbreak of ZIKV was reported from the island of Yap (in Micronesia, northwest of Indonesia). Singapore is already endemic for dengue, and its impact on public health and economic burden is significant. Other dengue-like infections (e.g., Chikungunya virus) are present. Yet only 10% of reported dengue cases have laboratory confirmation. The identification and control of other dengue-like, mosquito-transmitted infections is thus important for the health of Singapore's population, as well as its economy. Given that ZIKV shares the same Aedes mosquito vector with both dengue and Chikungunya, it is possible that this virus is present in Singapore and causing some of the mild dengue-like illness. A specific and sensitive one-step, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with an internal control (IC) was designed and tested on 88 archived samples of dengue-negative, Chikungunya-negative sera from patients presenting to our hospital with a dengue-like illness, to determine the presence of ZIKV in Singapore. The assay was specific for detection of ZIKV and displayed a lower limit of detection (LoD) of 140 copies viral RNA/reaction when tested on synthetic RNA standards prepared using pooled negative patient plasma. Of the 88 samples tested, none were positive for ZIKV RNA, however, the vast majority of these were from patients admitted to hospital and further study may be warranted in community-based environments.

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