CDC changes guidance for Zika testing

May 9, 2017

Recent research about tests for the Zika virus have shown an active infection is harder to detect than originally thought.

As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new health advisory for women of childbearing age.

The CDC is suggesting that women who may be exposed to the virus because of where they live or where they travel should consider getting a blood test for the Zika antibodies before they get pregnant.

A baseline reading could help with the interpretation of a Zika test during a pregnancy.

The CDC also suggested that pregnant women who may be infected, even if they do not have any symptoms, should be tested at least twice during pregnancy.

New evidence shows the problem with testing is that the antibody triggered by a Zika infection can linger in the blood for months, long after the infection has passed. Knowing when the infection occurred is critical information for anyone concerned about birth defects related to Zika.

Health officials in Cameron County, the only county in Texas to report active Zika transmission, are offering free testing for women in the Rio Grande Valley, reports KRGV-TV. CBS News recently broadcast a story about Zika in far South Texas as well, noting that Zika has persisted in the Valley all winter, and noting a vaccine is still at least a year away.

Under guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, all blood donations at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center are tested for Zika at QualTex Laboratories. Both STBTC and QualTex are subsidiaries of San Antonio-based nonprofit BioBridge Global (BBG). To keep up to date on the latest Zika news, visit BBG's Zika Update.