Testing for the Zika virus

| 08/09/2016

Two questions: 1) Can you please confirm what a person with Zika symptoms should do to get tested and what are the costs involved? 2) If I had Zika two months ago and did the test only today or this month since the cost of the test is reasonable, will it still show in the result that I had Zika?

Auntie’s answer: Both of these questions were posted separately under Wednesday’s CNS article on the Zika virus but I am answering them together. With all the misinformation and fear surrounding this virus, I put these questions to Tim McLaughlin, Public Health Surveillance Officer at the Public Health Department, which is at the forefront of getting out the facts about Zika. Before I get to the answers, I want to thank Mr McLaughlin for his patience and thoroughness.

For the first question, the main symptoms are rash accompanied by a low-grade fever, joint and muscle pain, and conjunctivitis. If you have those symptoms but, importantly, no travel history to a country where Zika is present, then you should see a doctor (whether private or at the Cayman Islands Hospital) who, after examining you, will decide if you should get tested.

Under this scenario, if the doctor refers you to get tested, it will be done for free at the Health Services Authority (HSA). If you choose to get tested privately, you will have to pay for the test.

On the other hand, if you have the symptoms but have travelled to a country with Zika, then there is no need to be tested since the assumption would be you have the disease. At that point, if you still want to be tested, you can, but it will cost you $100 through the HSA. You can also pay for a private test. The same would be true for anyone who has no symptoms but wants to be tested anyway.

As for the second question, the answer is yes. The antibody blood test looks for markers for the antibodies that are produced in a person’s immune system who has been exposed to Zika. These markers appear within a few weeks of getting the virus.

Mr McLaughlin also stressed the importance of prevention, for one thing asking people to check their yards and remove sources of standing water where mosquitos can breed.

For more information, Zika virus fact sheets can be found on the CNS Library, or contact the Public Health Department at 244-2561


Category: Ask Auntie, Medical and Health

Comments (1)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So one has to pay $150 to a doctor who will decide if you should get tested? There is really nothing to examine if all symptoms are there.