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First Rapid Test for Zika Virus Detection Developed in Texas

But it will only be available at hospitals that developed it for now, research team says


WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The first rapid detection test for the Zika virus has been developed by teams at two Texas hospitals.

The new test -- developed by researchers at Texas Children's Hospital and Houston Methodist Hospital -- is customized to each hospital's diagnostic laboratory and can provide results within several hours. It can be performed on blood, amniotic fluid, urine, or spinal fluid, the researchers said. The test detects the genetic material of the Zika virus and can distinguish it from dengue, West Nile, or chikungunya viruses.

For now, only registered patients at Texas Children's or Houston Methodist can receive the rapid Zika test. But the two labs may conduct referral testing from other hospitals and clinics in the future, the researchers said.

"With travel-associated cases of the Zika virus becoming more prevalent in the United States, coupled with the looming increase in mosquito exposure during spring and summer months, we must be prepared for a surge of Zika testing demand," James Versalovic, M.D., Ph.D., said in a Texas Medical Center news release. "We must provide answers for anxious moms-to-be, and families who may experience signs and symptoms or may simply have travel history to endemic areas." Versalovic is pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children's and co-leader of the Texas Children's Zika test development team.

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