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Focus Diagnostics Launches Laboratory Test for Chikungunya Virus
Date:2/15/2008

CR, a highly sensitive and commonly used testing method that can detect the presence of the virus' RNA in a patient's blood. Physicians can use test results in conjunction with clinical symptoms to diagnose a patient's infection with the virus. Until now, testing for chikungunya virus was not commercially available in the U.S. and specimens were referred to a public health laboratory, which could take a week or more to report results. Focus Diagnostics expects to be able to provide physicians with test results within a day of receiving a sample for testing.

Chikungunya's symptoms include fever, rash and joint pain, as well as headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain. Death from the disease is rare, but long-term health effects can include disabling joint pain that persists for weeks or months. There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for the disease.

In recent years, chikungunya has exhibited potential to spread to new regions. The CDC has reported that some travelers who visited India during an epidemic in 2006 that affected approximately 1.25 million individuals returned to the U.S. infected with the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that the emergence of chikungunya in Italy's northeast region of Ravenna in 2007 -- the first occasion that the Aedes albopictus mosquito had been involved in an outbreak of human illness in Europe -- has shown that "the spread of chikungunya across continents cannot be ruled out."

Chikungunya, which was first identified in Tanzania in 1953, is endemic in parts of Africa and Asia. The chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, was the primary carrier of the virus in the recent outbreak in Italy. The Asian tiger mosquito population has increased in the U.S. and is now commonly found in southern and eastern regions of the country. Another Aedes mosquito, A. aegypti, is
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SOURCE Quest Diagnostics
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