Zika Virus Update: Asking To Be Tested For Disease Remains Difficult, Strict Guidelines Still Being Followed

By Chiara Leghler, Parent Herald September 20, 07:36 am
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2016 in 60 seconds
Gabrielle Barry, a research specialist at the AIDS Vaccine Research Labs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tests body fluids from rhesus macaque monkeys infected with the Zika virus [while] searching for evidence of the virus on June 28, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin. Humans asking to be tested for Zika virus must comply with the requirements.
(Photo : Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Despite the high number of cases of Zika virus in the United States, which are both travel related and locally transmitted, it still remains difficult for a person to get tested for the virus. Accordingly, the guidelines are still strict so not everyone could get tested for Zika virus.

A woman named Jamie Palmeroni-Lavis came back to New York from the Dominican Republic after spending time there for her honeymoon and she is reportedly planning to get pregnant anytime soon. However, due to the fact that the Dominican Republic is a country where Zika virus has seen high number of cases, she wants to be sure that she is Zika-free since being infected with the disease while pregnant could lead to defects such as microcephaly.

Public health department laboratories in Florida and New York City are set to reach the capacity of their Zika tests resulting in private commercial laboratories being given the go signal to conduct Zika tests. There are guidelines to be followed, however, and it has become stricter, the New York Times reports.

This is due to the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the guidelines to be followed in order to determine who could be tested. Pregnant women who possibly had exposure to the virus and people with Zika-like symptoms are the only groups of people allowed to be tested for Zika virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then advised couples contemplating to get pregnant but fearing they have been exposed to Zika virus to avoid traveling to areas where cases have been recorded and if they have gone to these places, they should wait at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant, The Bulletin reports. It is believed that the virus could live in bodily fluids for months after one was exposed to the virus. Just recently, women and men were advised to have safe sex for at least six months as per the statement of the World Health Organization.

The Zika test is also reportedly expensive as it costs between $229 to $800. Public health experts defended their strict guidelines and pricy tag for the testing as they want to ensure that people who are at the highest risk have access to the testing. Dr. William Schaffner said in a statement, "We aren't interested in stimulating the testing of simply anxious people." He is an infectious diseases specialist and the head of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

There are also three types of testing for the Zika virus. One is the polymerase chain reaction, which is a test similar to those used for influenza. Another type is getting a blood sample from the patient and the third type is the plaque reduction neutralization test.

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