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Diagnostics Clinical care

By Our Powers Combined…

“Will Zika return? What pregnant women and others need to know about this frightening disease”

“1 in 7 babies exposed to Zika in the womb have health problems”

“A ‘perfect storm’ for the future spread of the Zika virus”

Viruses like Zika have been the subject of intense media attention, particularly since the widely publicized outbreaks in South America began. It’s well-known that fetuses and newborns who carry the virus are at risk of permanent health issues – but how can doctors conclusively identify those infected?

Felix Drexler, Head of the Virus Epidemiology Group at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, explains that current diagnostic methods for Zika and similar viruses face one common denominator: low sensitivity. “This applies to molecular methods, because viremia is super low and super short-lived, and also antibody tests – the latter in particular in tropical areas,” he says. “People with multiple flavivirus infections mount weaker IgM responses, and these people are so full of antibodies against common flavivirus epitopes that serological test specificity diminishes greatly.”

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About the Author

Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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