Is there a test for monkeypox? How to test for virus, and new 90-minute PCR test in development explained

The virus has been detected in over 50 nations

Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It’s a rare infection that’s mainly found in parts of west or central Africa, but there have been some recent cases identified in the UK.

Monkeypox is currently diagnosed by PCR test, but a new PCR test has been developed to detect the virus in just 90 minutes.

The virus has been detected in over 50 nations

But where is this test being developed and when will it be available?

Here’s what you need to know.

How is monkeypox detected?

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Monkeypox is currently diagnosed by PCR test on a viral swab taken from one or more vesicles or ulcers.

The virus has been detected in over 50 nations, with South Korea confirming its first case last week.

The strain currently circulating in the Northern Hemisphere has an estimated fatality rate of between 3-6%.

What is the new test and where is it being developed?

Scientists have developed a PCR test for monkeypox that can deliver results in just 90 minutes.

The test has been developed by South Korean diagnostics firm Seegene and aims to help countries monitor the spread of the virus and stop community transmission.

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The Novaplex™ MPXV Assay test can identify positive cases of the monkeypox virus in one and a half hours and the company plans to provide the tests to countries that have detected the virus.

Dr Jong-Yoon Chun, CEO of Seegene, said: “The monkeypox virus outbreak shows that endemic viruses can rapidly spread to the rest of the world and it’s a warning that new pandemics can emerge and threaten our lives at any time.

“We will continue our efforts to develop products that can accurately diagnose any virus to help prevent new infectious diseases from taking hold and becoming a pandemic.”

When will it be available?

Seegen said it aims to roll out the test quickly using its automated assay development system.

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What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

The illness begins with:

  • high temperature
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • swollen glands
  • chills
  • Exhaustion

A rash then usually begins one to five days after the first symptoms appear. The spots often start on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.

During the illness, the rash then changes from raised red bumps, to spots filled with fluid, with the spots eventually forming scabs which later fall off.