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Russian Scientists Developed an Express Encephalitis Test
May 14, 2013 11:41

Does this tick the encephalitis box?

Summertime is the period when many of us prefer to go to the woods for a traditional Russian-style barbeque called shashlyki. Unfortunately, this may also be the time when we are most susceptible to the encephalitis and Lyme disease caused by ticks bites. Russian scientists have recently developed an express-test to help quickly discover, whether or not a tick was a virus carrier. 
Both encephalitis and Lyme disease are caused by tick bites, usually by deer ticks, as well as other species. Ticks contract a virus via wild animals and then transfer the virus to a human. The illness usually starts with a fever that lasts up to a week, accompanied by vertigos, sickness, and general unwellness. After an 8-day remission a second period begins when the central nervous system is affected. At this stage the illness can develop into a meningitis or encephalitis, the latter causing severe mental disturbances and even paralysis. With Lyme disease, all the mentioned symptoms appear some 3 to 6 weeks after a bite occurred; the place of a bite appears as a small red dot and, sadly, may be ignored.
In the worst-case scenario a person may die. However, there are occasions when, instead of falling victim to any of the diseases, a person may become immune to encephalitis. 
The main problem in both cases is that a bite can take place, say, in the Baikal territory, which is remote enough to disallow a prompt diagnosis. Naturally, scientists in many countries have attempted to develop a method that would allow to quickly pass a test to establish, whether or not a deadly bite occurred. A test was developed in Poland and costs EUR15, and a similar test has now been developed in Russia and is on trial at an affordable price of EUR2.5.
The Russian test comes with a special fork to remove a tick from skin and then a small "laboratory" to perform a test. A tick is placed into a test-tube where it is then literally crushed to pieces. A few drops of water are then added to the tube, and the mix is then poured onto a test stripe, similar to those used to diagnose pregnancy. The first line shows the test was performed correctly, and the next two indicate, whether or not the crushed tick was carrying encephalitis or Lyme disease. 
This new express test currently has no analogues in Russia. The Polish test was banned from import into Russia because the tick had to be crushed manually, which obviously increased the chances of contamination. Technically, the new test is all ready, and is expected to be available to masses from 2014. 
Until then, do not forget to protect yourself well, when travelling in the woods areas - read our article on tick protection and, if you can, fetch a special anti-tick suit


Author: Julia Shuvalova

Tags: Russian science Russian medicine    

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