A new PCR-based test from Vela Diagnostics is now available for research use only to identify the Chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne virus recently detected on the Caribbean island of St Martin. The disease has since spread to several other Caribbean islands, including Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Barthelemy, and the British Virgin Islands.

While previous cases have occurred in Africa, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, the Caribbean outbreak marks the first time Chikungunya has been traced to local transmission by native mosquitoes in the Americas. Though not usually fatal, the virus has no known cure or vaccine.

Chikungunya is spread and carried by two species of mosquito, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito. Both species also carry the dengue virus and appear in the United States. Symptoms of Chikungunya include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rash.

“The sudden appearance of Chikungunya virus in atypical geographical regions may represent a new challenge for laboratories and governments,” says Vela Diagnostics CEO Michael Tillman. “The Sentosa SA CHIKV RT-PCR test, which is used by laboratories in the Asia-Pacific region, will provide a fast, efficient tool to screen and monitor the spread of this virus.”

The Sentosa SA CHIKV RT-PCR test is validated as part of the automated Sentosa qPCR workflow, which includes middleware and automated reporting tools. The Chikungunya test can also run in one panel from the same sample with the Sentosa SA Flu A/B and RSV RT-PCR test and the Sentosa SA Dengue RT-PCR test.

For more information, visit the travelers’ health update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Vela Diagnostics.