Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 1 October 2020

The 10-minute test for Mers

The diagnostics test can be done in the field with no need for well-equipped laboratories or qualified medical personnel.
An electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, US, shows a coronavirus particle, also known as the Mers virus. AP Photo
An electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, US, shows a coronavirus particle, also known as the Mers virus. AP Photo

ABU DHABI // Experts have said the deadly Mers virus could be detected in just 10 minutes by using a simple blood test.

The diagnostics test could be done in the field with no need for well-equipped laboratories or qualified medical personnel, said Dr Ahmed Abd El Wahed, from Germany’s Institute of Virology at the University of Goetting.

Dr El Wahed discussed the new test while speaking at the emerging viral diseases session at the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress on Tuesday.

This test is for the detection of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, or Mers-CoV, which this week claimed its 62nd victim.

The detection is performed by taking a blood sample and uses DNA amplification and detection technology.

“It is performed at a single temperature – 42°C – and can yield a result after only 2 to 10 minutes,” said Dr El Wahed.

“Early diagnosis of the infectious agents helps to diminish their impact by adequate outbreak management, such as isolation of infected patients and movement restrictions,” he said.

“The test provides ample time for healthcare professionals to determine the course of treatment by identifying the virus in its early stages and, therefore, allows the ability for patients to have a better outcome.”

Mers kills about 40 per cent of those affected by it.

While it was highly probable that the virus was passed from animals to humans, it is still unclear which creatures it came from, although camels and bats have both been suggested as the source by some researchers.

Globally, the World Health Organisation has confirmed 145 cases, including the 62 deaths.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s worst hit country where there is an overwhelming majority of cases with a death toll of 52 and 124 cases of infection.

The infection is considered a distant cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected more than 8,000 people.

jbell@thenational.ae

Updated: October 29, 2013 04:00 AM