The National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses (NCPV) is pleased to announce the availability of a South American Zika virus strain for the international research community. As part of the response to the Public Health Emergency of International Concern, Culture Collections of Public Health England has collaborated with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to make an isolate of the virus, derived from the current outbreak in South America.
Strain PRVABC59 of Zika virus was isolated at the CDC from a patient who travelled to Puerto Rico in 2015. The whole genome sequence of the strain has been determined, and is available online.
This strain is available from NCPV in addition to a historic African lineage strain of Zika virus. In the UK, the Advisory Committee for Dangerous Pathogens recently downgraded the biosafety requirements for Zika virus, from Containment Level 3 to Containment Level 2, as there is substantial evidence that while it can cause human disease, symptoms are generally mild. It is also unlikely to spread to the community, particularly in the absence of the relevant mosquito vector. This allows more laboratories to conduct research into this virus, assisting the international response. Across the rest of Europe and in the USA, Zika virus was already listed as requiring only BSL-2 (Biosafety Level 2) facilities.
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