The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is seeking to assist Latin American nations by providing nuclear-based Zika virus detection tools.
The Zika virus has been reported in 26 countries. The largest risk is for pregnant mothers, as the virus can cause microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with unusually small heads.
“The agency tries to respond quickly to emerging crises of this nature,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said. “Assisting countries with nuclear-related technologies to strengthen their health care capacities is a key part of our development work around the world. We are well prepared to deliver such assistance. In this case, it will enable countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to establish or strengthen early warning systems for the Zika virus.”
The emergency response will include RT-PCR machines, as well as technical advice and consumables. Staff from the IAEA will be on site to help train staff on the new equipment.
The RT-PCR can detect a virus within three hours. The machine is a joint product of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the IAEA. A quick detection means that quick and immediate response can be taken to stop the outbreak.