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Snohomish Health District is the local public health agency for Snohomish County in Washington state. Our news releases are a resource for current public health information for media, the public, policymakers, and other community partners.

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Testing for Zika virus

Today’s topic: Testing for Zika virus

Actions requested:  Be aware that real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) testing is now commercially available, but commercial laboratories do not provide confirmatory testing.

Background & Recommendations

See my June 3 Health Alert for background on, recommendations for, and interpretation of testing for Zika virus.  Note specifically that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

  •  rRT-PCR (molecular) testing should be performed for patients possibly exposed to Zika virus who have symptoms consistent with Zika virus infection
  • Providers who request molecular testing for Zika virus infection from a commercial testing laboratory are advised to retain and store in a refrigerator (2-8°C) an aliquot of the patient’s serum for subsequent Zika IgM ELISA testing if the rRT-PCR is negative
  • For specimens that are rRT-PCR negative from the commercial laboratory and no stored serum specimen is available, another serum specimen should be collected within 12 weeks of symptom onset for Zika IgM ELISA testing
  • Appropriate samples for molecular testing are serum samples collected <7 days and urine samples collected <14 days after symptom onset. Urine should always be collected with a patient-matched serum specimen.

Contact the Health District at 425-339-5278 to determine eligibility for Zika virus testing and to arrange for confirmatory testing.

For more information about testing for Zika virus infection, see Interim Guidance for Zika Virus Testing of Urine — United States, 2016 and Interim Guidance for Interpretation of Zika Virus Antibody Test Results.

You can find my recent health alerts posted on the Provider pages of our website, at

Gary Goldbaum, MD, MPH
| Health Officer & Director | Administration

3020 Rucker Avenue, Ste 306 | Everett, WA 98201 | 425.339.5210 |