The pharmaceutical company Roche announced on Wednesday that it has developed PCR tests to detect monkeypox. The virus has already been detected in 16 countries and more than 250 cases have been identified.
An air of déjà vu. While several cases of monkeypox have emerged in parts of the world where the disease is not common, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche announced on Wednesday that it has developed PCR tests to detect the virus.
These tests were developed by Roche and its subsidiary TIB Molbiol. “Roche has very quickly developed a new series of tests for the detection of the simian pox virus and the monitoring of its spread,” said the director of Roche’s diagnostics division, quoted in a press release.
#MEDIA – Roche is pleased to have very quickly developed a new suite of tests that detect the #monkeypox virus and aid in following its epidemiologic spread: https://t.co/RxggXnPucP #ROG #RHHBY pic.twitter.com/N2Vvc82LR4
— Rock (@Rock) May 25, 2022
The recent outbreaks, with more than 250 cases already reported in 16 countries as of May 22, according to the World Health Organization, are atypical, as they occur in countries where monkeypox, a disease characterized by lesions cutaneous, is not endemic.
The tests developed by Roche are not intended for the general public but are available for research purposes in most countries of the world.
First cases outside Africa in 2003
A first kit detects orthopoxviruses, including simianpox viruses, a second specifically detects simianpox viruses, while a third kit makes it possible to detect orthopoxviruses while specifying whether a simianpox virus is present or nope.
According to the WHO, the disease should be detected with a PCR test because antigenic tests cannot determine whether it is monkeypox virus or other related viruses. The best samples for diagnosis come from lesions, swabs of exudates (fluid produced by the wound) or crusts from lesions.
Monkey pox or simian orthopoxvirosis is – according to the WHO – a rare viral zoonosis (virus transmitted to humans by animals) whose symptoms are less serious than those observed in the past in subjects with smallpox.
With its eradication in 1980 and the subsequent discontinuation of smallpox vaccination, this orthopoxvirus emerged as the most important virus of its kind.
In 2003, cases were confirmed in the United States, marking the first occurrence of this disease outside of Africa. Most had been in contact with domestic prairie dogs, infected with imported African rodents.