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If, like me, you’ve been waiting for some good news related to the Zika virus, we finally have some. A rapid test for detecting the virus has been developed by two major Texas health centers, according to an announcement they made earlier this week. The test offers results in hours, according to its creators at Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Methodist Hospital. This means diagnosis and treatment can occur much more quickly.

Want to read more on this new test? See the announcement.

This development is important because of increasing travel of US citizens to regions where the virus is prevalent. And let’s not forget that it won’t be winter forever. Spring is right around the corner — that time of year when mosquito bites will become more common again.

Also, the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are scheduled to occur if not cancelled which could have significant impact on virus exposure and spread.

In my opinion, this is good news. The test entails faster turnaround time (hopefully as good if not better testing time after exposure). I’m hoping they’ll also begin to share it with other healthcare organizations. [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]After all, the more opportunities we have for testing people for the virus in this country, offering rapid diagnosis, the more we can help control the spread.[/pullquote]

But we have to know where it is to do that.  It  is also important to ascertain with certainty that Zika causes microcephaly since that is the major concern at present with Zika infection of pregnant women.

Also crucial to the success of this test  is an understanding the frequency of false positive or false negative results and effective testing time after exposure.

This test shows potential. I could envision it, or some improved version of it, given for all individuals returning to the US from regions that are experiencing active infections.

In the meantime, while we watch for new developments in identifying patients with Zika virus, you may want to review and share our two alerts on this topic: