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Allegheny Co. Health Dept. Updates Zika Situation At Board Meeting

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- At the Allegheny County Health Department Board of Health meeting, a timely topic was on the agenda Wednesday - Zika virus.

"At this point in time, our major concern is for people who have been traveling, who may have been exposed," says ACHD director Dr. Karen Hacker.

Some state health departments are doing testing, but not Pennsylvania. All local samples are going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It is a blood test and it has to be approved by us [the ACHD]," says Dr. Karen Hacker.

"They won't accept specimens for people who don't meet the criteria," says ACHD epidemiologist Dr. Kristin Mertz. "You really have to test someone during the week they have symptoms to be able to capture the virus in the blood."

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Because the CDC cannot test everyone, the county health department is emphasizing guidelines.

A blood test for viral DNA or antibodies against the virus can be checked if:

• A person has symptoms of fever, rash, joint pain, or pink eye within two weeks of traveling to areas affected by zika,
• Pregnant women who have traveled to these areas,
• And infants of mothers who have traveled to these areas.

With a backlog of samples to test, you may have to wait for results.

"We've been told about two weeks, but unfortunately, it seems it's taking longer than that," says Dr. Hacker.

So far, the Allegheny County Health Department has approved 37 tests. So far, there are no known cases of Zika in this area.


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