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CDC Revises Guidance for Zika Testing Procedures for Pregnant Women

NEW YORK (360Dx) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated its guidance for healthcare professionals interpreting Zika test results for women who live in or frequently travel to areas with a CDC Zika travel notice.

The updated guidance comes on the heels of new data suggesting that for some individuals, antibodies to the Zika virus may stay in the body for months after infection, the CDC said. The result is that tests that detect Zika antibodies may not conclusively determine how recent the infection is, and so cannot tell whether a woman was infected before or during pregnancy.

CDC is revising its guidance, in part, because the center's guidance relies on a test — Zika virus Immunoglobulin M ELISA — that detects Zika antibodies.

In particular, CDC recommends physicians use the new guidance when evaluating women who may have been exposed to the Zika virus, but display no symptoms.

The updated guideline calls for healthcare professionals to screen pregnant women for risk of Zika exposure, and for symptoms of infection. The CDC recommends testing such populations immediately with nucleic acid-based tests if they develop symptoms during their pregnancy, or if their sexual partner tests positive for Zika.

The new guidance also suggests that pregnant women be tested at least once every trimester with NATs, unless a previous test was positive. If amniocentesis is performed, specimens from the procedure should be used to test for Zika, and all pregnant women should be counseled each trimester about the limitations of Zika testing.

CDC recommends physicians test women who may have been exposed to the Zika virus, and who plan on becoming pregnant, for Zika antibodies before they become pregnant. However, the center said that antibody testing results should not be used to determine whether it is safe for a woman to become pregnant. Instead, by testing the woman during her pregnancy, the two tests may be used to determine whether a woman became infected during her pregnancy.