April 04, 2016

Missouri State Public Health Laboratory designated as a Zika Virus Testing Laboratory

The state public health laboratory will now be able to conduct Zika testing more quickly

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services today announced that the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory has been designated as a Zika virus testing laboratory by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory, located in Jefferson City, will now be able to provide testing of Zika virus samples.

"Receiving this designation will improve our responsiveness to Missourians who are in need of answers and the health care providers who are treating them," said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Acting Director Peter Lyskowski. "During a response to a public health concern like Zika virus, timely and accurate testing is of the utmost importance, and now our state public health laboratory can help provide that."

Prior to submitting a specimen, health care providers must contact DHSS to ensure a patient's travel history and possible symptoms meet requirements for testing. If Missourians are concerned they might have the virus after traveling to a Zika-affected area, they should contact their health care provider.

So far there have been two confirmed cases of Zika virus infection reported in a Missouri residents who traveled to other countries. Nearly 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. Typically, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint soreness and/or redness of eyes.

There is not currently a vaccine for Zika virus. The best prevention measure is to avoid mosquito bites in areas with ongoing transmission. There have been no reported cases of Zika virus contracted from a mosquito bite in Missouri. Ways to avoid mosquito bites while outdoors include wearing EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, wearing pants and long sleeves, or remaining indoors in an air conditioned environment.

According to the CDC, Zika virus also has the potential to be spread through unprotected sexual contact, through blood transfusion and an infected pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy.

The CDC is recommending pregnant women avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas which include countries ranging from Mexico into the Caribbean, Central American and South America.

Consult CDC resources for a listing of all areas and other information about Zika virus: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.