What screening tests are done to detect the Zika virus?

Screening tests to detect the Zika virus include the Trioplex Real-time RT-PCR test, MAC-ELISA and the plaque-reduction neutralization test. People are generally not screened to detect the Zika virus. A person who is symptomatic and lives in a Zika region or recently traveled to a Zika region can be tested for Zika. A healthcare provider will decide which test may be appropriate for an individual.

Screening for the Zika virus typically happens as a person interfaces with the healthcare system. Particularly with OBGYN practices looking at pregnant women, one of the first questions they're being asked as they walk in the door is, “Have you traveled recently?” or “Has your sexual partner traveled recently?” That opens up a bit of a can of worms if the woman is pregnant. Testing usually begins at that time.

Even in family practice settings, people coming in are asked if they travel, and if they do travel, is it in one of the areas where Zika is endemic. Not only did they travel but did their sexual partner travel. Larger health systems, in particular, are coordinating these screenings across the country.

If any of these answers are yes, then there are follow-up questions related to symptoms. So, if the person was in an endemic area and then comes back with red eyes and joint pain, then doctors contact the local Board of Health and arrange for blood or urine samples to be taken and all the more rush if it’s a pregnant woman.

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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.