Zika virus testing available at NVRL

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We are currently using a commercially available PCR assay to perform RNA testing on serum, plasma, and urine samples from symptomatic individuals, with the appropriate travel history, who are within 14 days of onset of symptoms. In the coming weeks, assuming the clinical need persists, it is intended that we will also introduce a second (laboratory developed) PCR assay to facilitate local confirmatory testing. In the interim, we will issue preliminary reports, whilst also referring samples to the Rare & Imported Pathogens Laboratory, Public Health England, for confirmation. Final reports will be issued on receipt of the RIPL results. 

As there are no well-established, clinically proven, serological assay available for Zika Virus, testing of asymptomatic individuals, or of those individuals with a remote travel history, is not currently recommended. Depending on specimen numbers, and to minimise costs, it is initially intended to batch-test ZV RNA samples once or twice a week: however, this will be kept under review, and we will keep you informed of any change to this schedule.

In addition, in the interests of facilitating the provision of timely patient care, we plan to test samples in parallel for Dengue and Chikungunya viruses, given their geographic co-circulation, and similarities of clinical presentation, with Zika virus.

We do not presently envisage there being a requirement for an out of hours service for Zika virus testing.