Is there a test that can diagnose Zika in myself or my baby?

A blood test is done to diagnose a Zika virus infection. The test is called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. It looks for an antibody-antigen reaction, which will show substances specific to the virus.

The test is best done in the first three days after you've been infected.

Your doctor will order the test if you have the symptoms of Zika and have been in an area where the virus is regularly seen.

Currently, the only agency testing for Zika is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a few state health departments. If you’ve recently returned from one of the outbreak areas and develop symptoms, your healthcare provider may contact a state or local health department to facilitate testing.

There is no in-utero test to see if your baby has the virus. However, if one of my pregnant patients reported these symptoms after returning from a trip, I would refer her to a maternal fetal medicine doctor; essentially a high-risk OB. He or she would probably order more frequent ultrasounds to make sure the baby’s head growth was keeping up with the rest of the body.

If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, use common sense: Postpone travel to Zika transmission areas, take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites, and be aware of potential symptoms.

Zika testing is usually done with a blood or urine test. The virus can be detected in blood in about the first seven days after symptoms start, and in urine for about the first 14 days. A rapid test at your local doctor's office isn't available yet, though. Your doctor would have to send the samples to specialized labs for testing, so the availability of the test is limited. Researchers are working on a test that will be faster and more accessible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.