CDC issues updates for interpretation of Zika test results for pregnant women

The CDC issued a health alert May 5 to update providers on guidance for interpreting Zika virus test results for women who live in or regularly travel to areas where mosquito-borne transmission of the virus may be active.

The changes to Zika test guidance for this population were made because the test relies on the presence of specific antibodies created by the immune system to fight the virus. These antibodies can last for months, which means tests may not be able to determine whether or not a pregnant women was infected with the virus before, or after she became pregnant.

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The CDC recommends the following:

• Screen pregnant women for Zika symptoms and their specific risk of exposure to the virus. Test this patient population promptly with nucleic acid testing.
• Unless a previous test has come back positive, consider testing patients once during each trimester.
• Consider examining specimens obtained during amniotic fluid tests for evidence of the Zika virus.
• Advise patients each trimester about the limitations of antibody Zika testing.

"Our guidance today is part of our continued effort to share data for public health action as quickly as possible," said Henry Walke, MD, incident manager of the CDC's Zika response efforts. "As we learn more about the limitations of antibody testing, we continue to update our guidance to ensure that healthcare professionals have the latest information for counseling patients who are infected with Zika during pregnancy."

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Miami-Dade's Zika spending approaches $30M 
3 things to know about 'Zika twins' 
CDC researchers call for increased surveillance of Zika-related epilepsy 

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