Researchers from HKU established a new animal model for studying the pathogenesis, treatments and vaccines for Zika virus. The team led by Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, Dr Jasper Chan Fuk-woo and Dr Anna Zhang Jinxia found that immunosuppressed mice developed disseminated infection and inflammation in multiple organs, including the testis. The mice were effectively treated by recombinant type 1 interferons. The work has been published in EBioMedicine.
Despite having been discovered in Uganda for almost 60 years, <20 human cases of Zika infection were reported before 2007. The massive epidemics in the Pacific islands associated with the ZIKV Asian lineage in 2007 and 2013 were followed by explosive outbreaks in Latin America in 2015.
Jasper Chan Fuk-woo, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, explained that the virus usually stays in the blood for around two weeks.
“The risk of an outbreak in Hong Kong is not particularly high at the moment, as it is not unexpected that we will have imported cases,” he said. “But it’s more if the city sees its first local case. The coming two to three weeks will be very critical.”
Zika virus is a kind of arbovirus. It belongs to Flaviviridae family, genus Flavivirus. Dengue virus, Yellow fever virus and West Nile virus are also members of this family. Zika virus was first isolated from a rhesus monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947.
Zika virus Recommbinant Protein, Antibody and cDNA Clones are now available from Sino Biological.