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Vela Diagnostics launches qualitative test to identify never before documented virus in Western hemisphere
Vela Diagnostics, a provider of innovative and integrated diagnostic workflows headquartered in Singapore, has created a new PCR-based test for the identification of the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus, that can be used as a surveillance tool to monitor the spread of the virus following a recent outbreak in the Caribbean island of St Martin.

This marks the first time the virus has been seen in the Americas in non-travelers, meaning the currently documented infections in St Martin are due to a local reservoir of virus present in island mosquito populations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have cautioned that further spread to other Caribbean islands and even mainland America is possible in the coming months. Outbreaks of Chikungunya have previously been reported in Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific.

The virus is carried and spread by the same mosquitos that cause dengue virus — Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, more commonly known as the Asian tiger mosquito. Both species are found in many regions throughout the world, including the US. With no known vaccine or treatment, Chikungunya causes sudden high fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling and rash.

Vela Diagnostics CEO Michael Tillman said, "The sudden appearance of Chikungunya virus in atypical geographical regions may represent a new challenge for laboratories and governments. The SentosaTM 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 SentosaTM SA CHIKV RT-PCR test is validated as part of the automated SentosaTM qPCR workflow. The workflow requires minimum hands-on time and sample input. The SentosaTM workflow is supported by automated reporting and middleware capability that allows for sample traceability from input to results, facilitating seamless laboratory integration.

To date, the SentosaTM qPCR workflow supports more than 20 tests across disease areas including microbiology, virology and oncology. The SentosaTM SA CHIKV RT-PCR test is currently intended for Research Use Only (RUO), pending CE-IVD approval.

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