By: James White, BBC News science editorWhat they were looking for was what they called “microbiome fingerprints” of Zika virus in the blood.
The scientists found that some of the Zika-infected blood samples could have been contaminated with the virus.
And they found that, at least in the United States, those infected had been infected with Zika before being tested.
“The virus can be detected by looking at how quickly you are infected and then the viral load you are carrying is what is being measured,” Dr White said.
“You could potentially be exposed to a different strain of the virus than the ones you are normally exposed to.”
The scientists were able to look at the viral genome in the cells of some infected people and found that the virus had mutated.
Dr White said they found the changes were similar to those seen in the genomes of people who have contracted malaria or dengue fever.
“It was an interesting discovery,” he said.
Dr Whitney said the virus can survive for up to nine months in the body before it is eliminated.
“We have to get to the point where we can eliminate this virus that has survived for a long time before we can make any predictions about what we’re going to see in the future.”
Dr White says scientists were still trying to understand how the virus was moving around in the human body.
“This virus is not very good at changing shape,” he explained.
“In the laboratory it has a very narrow window of opportunity, which is when you have the virus circulating.”
That window has to be broken in the lab before you can make predictions about how long this virus will remain there.
“Dr Whitneys research group is working with researchers at the US National Institutes of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It has also funded research by Australian scientists, with more than 100 studies to date.”
There is a lot of good work being done to understand this virus,” Dr Whitney added.”
Hopefully we can use that to predict what the future will bring.
“The BBC’s Andrew Harding has more on the Zika outbreak.