Beijing, Feb 25: Chinese scientists have successfully isolated two Zika virus strains, which will assist research into a possible vaccination and the transmission pattern of the mosquito-borne disease that has triggered a global health emergency.
The two strains were isolated from blood and urine samples from two patients, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.
The urine test was the first successful isolation from a sample such as that, according to the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Guangzhou No. 8 People's Hospital. With five confirmed imported Zika virus cases and the weather beginning to warm up across the country, China is on high alert.
The isolation can help scientists study the transmission pattern of the virus while provide a foundation for the invention of reagent and vaccine. Chinese scientists have announced on Monday they had decoded the gene sequence of the first imported Zika virus.
The World Health Organisation has declared a global health emergency over the Zika virus and its suspected links to birth defects. The virus has been reported in at least 34 countries, many of them in Central and Latin America.
WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised pregnant women to consider delaying travel to Zika-infected countries. Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries dengue fever and yellow fever.
The disease was first discovered in Africa in the 1940s but is now spreading in Latin America. Scientists say there is growing evidence of Zika's links to microcephaly, that leads to babies being born with small heads.