Zika Virus Test – Zika Testing
Returning to London or the UK from the Americas and concerned about having contracted the Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito – found in tropical climates, such as Central and South America and Africa. The Zika outbreak is currently mainly in the Americas, with countries such as Brazil being most affected.
We recommend that you read all the information below on testing before booking an appointment, but if you have any questions, please call or email us and we will be happy to help. You can also consult our infographic if you are wondering “Should I get tested for Zika?“
It is thought that around 80% of Zika infections pass unnoticed, with no clear symptoms.
In the 20% of symptomatic cases, these symptoms will display as a mild illness, and may include:
- Muscle weakness
- Rash and itching
- Joint pain
There is no treatment to Zika, with symptoms usually subsiding within 2-7 days as the body is normally able to fight the virus itself. The NHS recommends drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol to relieve symptoms. Any patient with mild to severe symptoms after travel are advised to visit A&E or a Tropical Medicine clinic, to eliminate the possibility of any other harmful tropical diseases (such as malaria, dengue or yellow fevers) that travelers may have also come into contact with.
The biggest concern with regard to the Zika virus, is the potential effect on unborn babies – with a strong link between Zika-affected expectant mothers, and babies born with the severe birth defect Microcephaly.
Advice for travelers:
Pregnant women are advised to avoid all travel to Zika-affected area. Women actively trying to conceive are also recommended not to travel to high-risk areas.
For those who still intend to travel, it’s worth taking extra precautions
While in a Zika-affected area:
- Wear long-sleeves
- Use strong mosquito repellant (50% DEET) and SPF 30-50
- Avoid insect bites
- Avoid breeding sites for mosquitos, such as stagnant water
After visiting a Zika-affected country, it’s advised to take extra contraceptive measures throughout the trip for several weeks after:
- If symptomatic, or if tested positive, wait 6 months before trying to conceive
- If asymptomatic, wait 8 weeks before trying to conceive
- If symptomatic, or if tested positive, use condoms for at least 6 months from the onset of symptoms.
- If asymptomatic, use condoms for at least 6 months from the possible exposure date.
Although these recommendations are erring on the side of caution, this is due to the current lack of evidence on the Zika virus, and the severe effect on unborn babies.
If you are worried about having possibly contracted the Zika virus, we provide two different tests for the virus.
The first is a Zika virus PCR test:
- Only appropriate for symptomatic patients, or within 14 days of Zika-exposure
- Test window difficult to predict in asymptomatic patients, so test would be less reliable.
- Tests for viral genetic material
- Runs on both a urine or blood sample.
- Both the blood test and a urine test can be tested up to 14 days’ after onset of symptoms
- The CDC recommends running this test twice, on both urine and blood samples, for most reliable results. “Urine should always be collected with a patient-matched serum specimen.”
- Any patients undergoing Zika PCR testing must then return for antibodies testing after 21-days post-exposure, to be sure of the result.
- Costs just £689.40
- Results in 7-14 working days
The second is a Zika-virus antibodies test:
- Runs on blood sample only
- Test must be done at least 21 days post-exposure:
- The Zika virus has an incubation period of 3-14 day
- It then takes 7 days for production of sufficient antibodies for detection.
- Test can be performed 3 weeks post-Zika exposure.
- Costs just £136
- Results in 7-10 working days
Both are able to give a strong indication as to whether or not a patient has come into contact with the Zika virus, but not entirely confirm.
Any asymptomatic patients wishing to undergo the PCR test are also advised to undergo antibody testing at a later date, to confirm.
Please note, the cost of each test does not include the price of the Private GP consultation required to discuss the different options, and take the sample necessary for testing. A 15-minute GP appointment costs just £55, and includes any necessary follow-ups such as the interpretation and explanation of results, usually by email or phone.
If you and your partner are looking to both get tested, the samples can be collected in the same 15 minute consultation.
A small price, for peace of mind.