Updated on 2 May 2016
Singapore: Recently the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to the first ever commercial test to diagnose the deadly Zika virus. The test, developed by Quest Diagnostics will be available in the US as early as next week.
Currently, people who suspect they are infected with the Zika virus can only be tested through a network of CDC approved laboratories. The test detects Zika antibodies in their blood, according to the FDA. The antibody test can produce a false positive result in people who have had another mosquito-borne illness, called dengue, in the past.
The new test detects genetic material known as RNA from the Zika virus in human blood serum. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends testing for anyone with symptoms of Zika infection who has traveled to an area with transmission within the past two weeks, as well as any pregnant women who have lived or visited affected regions.
This new approval should increase capacity for testing in the US, as well as, shorten the time it takes to get a diagnosis.Symptoms of Zika include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.
With nearly 700 cases reported in the US, Zika has become epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean since last fall. The virus is mainly spread through mosquito bites and causes mild illness or no symptoms in most people. However, health officials have confirmed that Zika infection during pregnancy can cause fetal microcephaly -- characterized by an abnormally small head and brain -- and other birth defects, and warned that local outbreaks in the United States are possible.
The CDC recommends Zika tests for people with symptoms who have traveled within the last two weeks to an area with an outbreak of the disease; pregnant women without symptoms who have lived or traveled to areas with Zika outbreaks; pregnant women without symptoms whose male sexual partners have traveled to or lived in an area of active Zika infection; and infants of mothers who live or who have traveled to areas with Zika virus transmission during their pregnancy.