A new test for the ZIka virus has received emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just as officials announced the discovery of an additional mosquito found to be carrying the virus deep into the United States.
Quest Diagnostics, headquarter in Madison, New Jersey, announced their company has received emergency certification from the FDA for a new “Real Time RT-PCR Test” to provide early detection of the Zika virus. The optimum time for this test is during the first week following the onset of symptoms, according to a statement from Quest Diagnostics obtained by Breitbart Texas.
The test will detect the Zika virus RNA genome early on to help diagnose at risk patients who are exhibiting symptoms early on. So far, at least 380 people have been confirmed to have the virus as of April 20, the Quest statement revealed.
The news of the emergency-approved test comes as Pan American Health Organization officials in Mexico have discovered the presence of the virus in the “Asian tiger” mosquito. This mosquito is more prevalent in the United States and reaches much further north than the aegypti aegypti mosquito that was previously known to be the only carrier of the virus, the Washington Post’s Nick Miroff reported.
The virus was detected in an Asian tiger mosquito that was captured in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. The Pan American Health Organization tested the mosquito and confirmed the presence of the Zika virus.
The Asian tiger mosquito can be found as for north as New England and the lower Great Lakes region, Miroff reported. The discovery raised the threat of the virus into states like Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“There are officials who have been saying we don’t have aedes aegypti, so we don’t need to be worried or have a plan,” Janet McAllister, an entomologist at the CDC told the Washington Times. “What CDC is saying is: You need a plan in place because albopictus could transmit Zika in your area, and you need to take it seriously.”
At this time, it is not known how effective the Asian tiger mosquito is at transmitting the virus to humans.
The addition of the Asian tiger’s ability to carry the disease makes prevention more difficult as the breeding habits of this mosquito are different from the aegypti aegypti mosquito.
Late last week, a 70-year-old man in Puerto Rico became the first person in the United States or one of its territories to die from the Zika virus, CNN reported on Friday.
The CDC reports that mosquitoes become infected by the Zika virus when they feed on a person who is already infected. The infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other humans.
Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas explained the significance of this method of the disease transmission, Breitbart Texas reported in February. “As we head towards springtime, if we have a lot of people infected with Zika, either because they are imported cases or sexually acquired cases, that may trigger the mosquitoes to get infected with the virus and start that transmission cycle,” Dr. Kahn told NBCDFW in Dallas. “And, once that occurs, it’s almost impossible to get the virus out of the population.”