The state Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today that the Katherine A. Kelley State Public Health Laboratory in Rocky Hill will now be able to test for Zika virus in-state. Prior to today’s announcement, DPH was required to send all patient samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA for testing. The ability to test in-state will save time in determining and receiving results, putting the State in a position to respond more quickly if necessary.
“I commend the staff at the State Public Health Laboratory for their hard work and dedication in developing our capability to test for Zika,” said Dr. Raul Pino, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “In-state testing will allow us to obtain results faster so that pregnant women, women planning to become pregnant, their male partners and their physicians can either have peace of mind quicker or can take necessary precautions and steps to protect their health and their pregnancy.”
“Our state agencies are working closely together as they prepare for any contingencies. This is an important step by the Department of Public Health and I commend Commissioner Pino for taking action. We, of course, are going to continue to monitor our mosquito population closely as we work with health care providers and officials both here in Connecticut and around the nation,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy.
“Our ability to perform molecular testing allows us to assist health care providers in the diagnosis of Zika virus infections,” said Dr. Jafar Razeq, Director of the State Public Health Laboratory.
Testing of asymptomatic patients for the presence of Zika virus antibodies continues to be done at the CDC as the State Public Health Laboratory develops its own capacity to test for antibodies. Currently, this testing at the CDC is limited to pregnant women who travelled to affected areas while pregnant or within two weeks of becoming pregnant and are best performed on blood collected between 2 and 12 weeks after travel. Positive antibody results indicate exposure but do not confirm active infection.
“While the transmission of Zika virus is primarily by the bite of an infected mosquito, evidence of sexual transmission from men to women is increasing,” said Dr. Pino. “Women and men should adopt the recommended precautions to prevent Zika virus associated birth defects and miscarriages.”
To avoid infections in pregnant women recommendations include: 1) postponing travel to areas where Zika virus is circulating among mosquitoes, 2) adopting precautions to avoid mosquito bites if travel is necessary, 3) men who travel to endemic areas should abstain from sexual activity with a pregnant partner, or use condoms, for the duration of the pregnancy.
For more information please visit www.ct.gov/dph/zika.