altona helps detect new cases of vector-borne diseases in Europe
The likelihood of transmission of vector-borne diseases in Europe is increasing. Especially dengue fever and West Nile fever but also Zika virus disease and Chikungunya become more important for public health authorities. These diseases are caused by corresponding viruses transmitted by the mosquito genus Aedes (especially Aedes albopictus, also known as tiger mosquito, and Aedes aegypti) and, as in the case of West Nile virus, by Culex pipiens, the common house mosquito. Aedes albopictus, which is native to tropical and subtropical regions, is already established in large parts of Europe, as the environmental conditions are favorable for vector activity.
As part of its RealStar® product line and its FTE (fever, tropical, emerging) panel, altona Diagnostics provides different suitable CE-IVD marked RT-PCR kits: With the RealStar® Chikungunya RT-PCR Kit 2.0, the RealStar® Dengue RT-PCR Kit 3.0, the RealStar® WNV RT-PCR Kit 2.0 and the RealStar® Zika Virus RT-PCR Kit 1.0 the respective virus specific RNA can be detected. Additionally, the RealStar® Dengue Type RT-PCR Kit 1.0 is offered as an RUO product and can be used to differentiate between all four dengue virus serotypes 1–4.
For the 2023 transmission season, 31 cases of locally acquired human dengue virus infections and 33 cases of WNV infections were reported in mainland France. In Italy, 42 locally acquired cases of dengue fever and 295 cases of West Nile fever have been detected (source). The transmission of Zika virus and Chikungunya virus in Europe is linked to the importation of virus by travelers into areas with established and active competent vectors. Thus, the current probability of local transmission events of Chikungunya virus and Zika virus in mainland Europe is high.
An infection with dengue virus, West Nile virus, Zika virus or Chikungunya virus can be mild or asymptomatic. However, in case of illness their symptoms range from high fever, muscle and joint pain, nausea, rash to hemorrhagic fever, neuroinvasive forms and even death. Severe dengue disease is characterized by hemorrhagic fever, including severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding mucosa and fatigue. The neuroinvasive disease of West Nile virus infection, such as West Nile encephalitis, can lead to disorientation, paralysis, convulsion and coma.
An infection with Zika virus during pregnancy entails a special risk. An estimated 5-15% of infants born to women with Zika infection during pregnancy, symptomatic and asymptomatic, show clinical features of congenital Zika syndrome (source). These features include microcephaly and other malformations in the infant, including high muscle tone, eye abnormalities, hearing loss and limb contractures. Moreover, the infection during pregnancy can cause complications such as stillbirth, fetal loss and preterm birth.
No specific antiviral treatment is available and only for dengue, vaccines have recently been approved. Therefore, avoidance of mosquito bites and vector control are the most important measures to prevent infection.
Find out more about the RealStar® FTE (fever, tropical, emerging) PCR test kits.
RealStar® Chikungunya RT-PCR Kit 2.0
Find out more about vector-borne diseases on the WHO and ECDC websites.