The sudden and explosive expansion of Zika virus (ZIKV) from the African continent through Oceania and culminating in the outbreak in South America has highlighted the importance of new rapid point-of-care diagnostic tools for the control and prevention of transmission. ZIKV infection has devastating consequences, such as neurological congenital malformations in infants born to infected mothers and Guillain–Barr_e syndrome in adults. Additionally, its potential for transmission through vector bites, as well as from person to person through blood transfusions and sexual contact, are important considerations for prompt diagnosis. Recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA), an isothermal method, was developed as an alternative field-applicable assay to PCR. Here we report the development of a novel ZIKV real-time reverse transcriptase RPA (RT-RPA) assay capable of detecting a range of different ZIKV strains from a variety of geographical locations. The ZIKV RT-RPA was shown to be highly sensitive, being capable of detecting as few as five copies of target nucleic acid per reaction, and suitable for use with a battery-operated portable device. The ZIKV RT-RPA demonstrated 100% specificity and 83% sensitivity in clinical samples. Furthermore, we determined that the ZIKV RT-RPA is a versatile assay that can be applied to crude samples, such as saliva and serum, and can be used as a vector surveillance tool on crude mosquito homogenates. Therefore, the developed ZIKV RT-RPA is a useful diagnostic tool that can be transferred to a resource-limited location, eliminating the need for a specialized and sophisticated laboratory environment and highly trained staff.
- Molecular detection
- Recombinase polymerase amplification