By Gatonye Gathura
Disease detectives in Kenya have kicked off an 18-month search for the Zika virus and determine its importance as a cause of illness in the country.
Justifying the expedition, researchers from KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme in Kilifi, Kenya, want to know more about the virus first discovered in neighbouring Uganda in 1947.
The mosquito, Ae. Aegypti suspected of transmitting the virus is also found in Kenya.
“We will analyse blood samples from hospital admissions and community surveys to determine whether ZIKV is present in Kenya, and if so, how widespread its occurrence is,” says team leader Dr George Warimwe.
The team will also analyse archived collections of mosquito samples to determine if the virus circulates in the local mosquito population.
The study is funded through the UK’s Medical Research Council Zika Rapid Response Initiative with further support from the Wellcome Trust and the Newton Fund.