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Despite its discovery in Uganda in 1947 little is known about Zika virus (ZIKV) and its importance as a cause of illness in East Africa. Now, researchers at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme in Kilifi, Kenya and collaborators at other research centres in the region have embarked on a landmark study to address several of these knowledge gaps.

Researchers in a lab

The team led by Dr George Warimwe will use molecular tools and antibody assays to 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. In addition, given that ZIKV is mosquito-borne, the research team will also analyse archived collections of mosquito samples to determine if the virus circulates in the local mosquito population.

The 18-month study is funded through the UKs Medical Research Council Zika Rapid Response Initiative with further support from the Wellcome Trust and the Newton Fund.