‘No Zika Virus Identified in Liberia’

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— Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan

In reaction to a recent story published by the Daily Observer newspaper, award-winning Liberian infectious disease scientist and inventor Dr. Dougbeh Christopher Nyan has said, “so far, I am not aware of any clinical report and there is no biomolecular evidence of identification of the Zika virus by any healthcare authority in Liberia.”

Dr. Nyan, who was responding to questions via a recent Skype interview, refuted claims made by a US-based Physical Therapist, Catherine Kurkett-Kamara story entitled, “Zika Virus Identified in Liberia?,” and further stated that “this could be an inaccurate alarm.”

Recently, Madam Kurkett-Kamara, told reporters in Monrovia that she has a “Zika-infected” patient under her treatment. She was quoted by the newspaper stating that, “Emmanuel Dogbeh, who has been with the SALT Rehabilitation Clinic since 2016, appeared to have the virus, but I [Catherine Kurkett-Kamara] have taken his pictures to the US, and everybody agreed that little Emmanuel is suffering from the Zika virus.”

Kurkett-Kamara is a Physical Therapist by profession and currently a doctoral candidate in public health at the online Capella University. She is CEO of the SALT Rehabilitation Clinic in Monrovia, Liberia.

According to her SALT Rehabilitation Clinic, Emmanuel’s symptoms included not holding up his head or not even sitting in an upright position as well as having an abnormal shape of the head and position of the nose and ear.

Dr. Nyan, a German-trained medical doctor, told reporters that, “The condition described and physical defects mentioned about the patient could have also resulted from infections with Cytomegalovirus, Rubella virus, Parvovirus, Toxoplasma and other infectious pathogens that cause defects of the fetus [unborn child]. It could also be due to some other neurologic condition that may not be of viral origin. Therefore, this requires a differential diagnostic and multidisciplinary approach that will involve not only infectious disease specialists, but also neurologists to diagnose.“

He further averred that, “If there was any such case of a Zika virus detection, I am sure my colleagues at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, the US National Institute of Health (NIH) and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC)  would have known.”

“Zika virus infection, can be identified and diagnosed by preforming specific tests on biological specimens such as blood, saliva and other biological fluids from the mother and the child, subjected to molecular testing to detect the virus, performing biomolecular gene-sequence analysis if the virus is detected, and then comparing its genetics with reference genes for characterization and identification,” Dr. Nyan said.

“Only with such clinical and molecular laboratory procedures yielding a confirmed true positive results can any doctor say that he or she has identified the Zika virus or any infectious pathogen for that matter,” he said.

In September 2018, Dr. Nyan’s invention, the Rapid Multiplex Pathogen Diagnostic Test (the Nyan Test), was granted a United States Patent. Nyan Test detects many infections such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis viruses, Zika virus, Cytomegalovirus, Typhoid, Malaria, Yellow fever and other pathogens. The Nyan Test can identify infections at the same time and within 10–40 minutes. He has won numerous awards for his diagnostic test, including the prestigious African Innovation Award Special Price for Social Impact.

Dr. Nyan, who is currently on a professional tour of Asia and Europe, has said in response to a question that, “I have always made myself available to work with my colleagues to help develop the country’s diagnostic capability to a world class state-of-the-art standard.”

He conducted training workshops in diagnostics at the National Public Health Institute’s Reference Laboratory and lectured at the Cuttington University and the Mother Patten College of Health Sciences in May this year.

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