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Kemri Develops Kit for Rapid Test of Rift Valley Fever Virus

Rift Valley fever will now be detected and treated early following the development of a rapid-testing kit.

Unlike before when tests for the disease had to be done at the Kenya Medical Research Institute or other advanced labs, the new kit, known as ImmunoLine, can be used in hospitals and results known in less than five minutes.

“The kit was developed with help from Japan International Cooperation Agency. It will save lives by detecting the disease early and containing it before it spreads,” said Kemri head of production department James Kimotho.

The gadget uses the same technique like the HIV testing kit and shows two red stripes for a positive test of the fever and one for a negative result.

Dr Kimotho said ImmunoLine was the first kit to be developed by Kemri for testing the fever.

“The problem with using other kits is that results take long. It is also very costly since Sh25,000 is needed for 96 tests. The kits are not locally available,” he said.

He added that Kemri was in the final stages of testing the tool on a large scale and that it would be ready for production and distribution to hospitals in six months.

Dr Kimotho said more than 200 samples had been tested using the kit during the pilot stage, which took five years, and it had proved effective.

Kemri senior marketing officer Doris Night said before ImmunoLine, there were no gadgets for testing the fever effectively.

“If a domestic animal like a cow, sheep or goat is infected with the fever, the people handling it are likely to get the disease too,” she said.

She added that movement of people could also spread the illness.

Ms Night said a pack of ImmunoLine costing less than Sh100 could test 20 samples.

According to Dr Kimotho, Kemri researchers were working with independent investigators to verify results of the samples tested by the kit before approaching the Health ministry to support its mass production.

He said evaluation tests for ImmunoLine had also been conducted in Uganda.

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