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New test to detect ‘Ebola virus’ infection within minutes

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New York: In a major development in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus, a new test has been shown to accurately detect within minutes if an individual is infected by the virus.

This new rapid diagnostic test (RDT) could cut back on the lengthy process usually required to confirm if a patient has Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) or not, help identify case contacts and ultimately curb the spread of Ebola, said the study published in the journal, The Lancet.

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The study is the first to show that a point-of-care EVD test (ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test; Corgenix) is faster  and as sensitive as a conventional laboratory-based molecular method used for clinical testing during the recent outbreak in Sierra Leone.

“Laboratory results can sometimes take days. Delays like this, result not only in the failure to diagnose and treat Ebola-infected patients, but also in individuals without Ebola being admitted to holding units where they may be subsequently infected with the virus,” said senior study author Nira Pollock from Boston Children’s Hospital, US.

“This test, on the other hand, is capable of detecting the Ebola virus in just a small drop of blood tested at the bedside and could help us in the fight against Ebola.”

Currently, diagnosis of EVD requires a full vial of venous blood to be shipped to a laboratory with a high level of biosafety and staff expertise for testing by real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).

In this study, researchers compared the diagnostic accuracy of the new RDT against the benchmark RT-PCR test (altona Diagnostics) being used for clinical diagnosis in the field reference laboratory run by Public Health England at Port Loko in Sierra Leone.

The study involved 106 suspected Ebola patients admitted to two treatment centres in Sierra Leone during February 2015 who were tested by both RDT (performed on a finger stick blood sample at the point-of-care) and by standard RT-PCR (performed on plasma in the laboratory).

The rapid diagnostic test detected all confirmed cases of EVD that were found positive by the benchmark method, with sensitivity of 100 percent (identifying all patients with EVD as per the benchmark method) and a specificity of 92 percent (identifying patients who did not have EVD).

(IANS)

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Eastern Congo Suffers From a Deadly Ebola Outbreak

Some people still refuse to believe Ebola exists and have hidden infected family members.

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Ebola, WHO
In this photo taken Sept 9, 2018, a health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, DRC. VOA

An outbreak of Ebola in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed more than 200 people. Almost 300 Ebola cases have been confirmed since the outbreak began in August, authorities say.

The health ministry said half of the cases were in Beni, a city of 800,000 people, in the North Kivu province.

The outbreak is in a conflict zone where dozens of armed groups operate. Aid agencies have been forced to suspend or slow down their work on several occasions since the outbreak.

Ebola, WHO
A health care worker from the World Health Organization, left, gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker who will then vaccinate people who might potentially have the virus, in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

Health Minister Oly Ilunga said his response teams “have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment and kidnapping.”

“Two of our colleagues in the Rapid Response Medical Unit have even lost their lives in an attack,” Ilunga said.

Ebola was detected in the DRC in 1976. The current outbreak is the tenth since it was first discovered.

The World Health Organization has warned the virus could spread to nearby countries, including Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

congo, ebola
Health care workers from the World Health Organization prepare to give an Ebola vaccination to a front-line aid worker in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Medical workers have lots of experience dealing with Ebola outbreaks in the DRC. Fortunately, they have new tools to fight the deadly virus. A new vaccine has shown it can protect people who’ve come into contact with Ebola victims, and more people have learned techniques to keep the virus from spreading.

Also Read: Uganda Readies Itself To Fight Off Ebola From The DRC Border

However, old problems persist with every outbreak. Some people still refuse to believe Ebola exists and have hidden infected family members. Traditional burial practices also put people at risk. (VOA)