Zika virus is one of almost 80 arboviruses (arthropod-borne viruses) that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes species).  It belongs to the Flaviviridae family and is enveloped with icosahedral structure and a non-segmented, single-stranded, positive sense RNA genome. It is closely related to the Spondweni virus.  The genome size is 10,671 nucleotides.

Zika virus was discovered in 1947 and was named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. The first documented human cases were in 1952.  Outbreaks of Zika virus infections have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.   In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.  On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Local transmission has been reported in as many as 61 other countries and territories. It is anticipated that Zika virus infections will continue to spread throughout the world.  While most Zika infections do not result in severe symptoms, the connection between Zika virus infection in pregnant mothers and microcephaly as well as other birth defects in the new born babies has been established.  The best prevention is mosquito control and avoiding mosquito bites.  Once a victim is infected with Zika virus, they are less likely to be infected again.

Sample requirements:

It is best to collect samples in the first week following onset of symptoms.  A variety of samples can be collected and tested.

Serum is the best sample to test.  Serum can be collected in a serum separator tube or transferred to a small vial.  0.5 mL of serum is required for the test.  Urine, Cerebrospinal fluid, semen, saliva or amniotic fluid can be tested.  Sample size: 0.5 mL for liquid samples and saliva can be collected on a swab and and shipped in viral transport medium.

Shipping requirement:

Samples must be shipped on ice packs or dry ice.  Please follow shipping regulations (Category B).  All samples must be accompanied by a physician’s test request and a form of payment.  We cannot accept samples from NY State physicians.

Test offered:

Real Time RT-PCR that detects a variety of Zika virus isolates including the Brazil isolate, African and Asian isolates.

Turnaround time:

1-7 business days.





Manual of Clinical Microbiology.  Jorgensen, J.H., Paller, M.A., Carrol, K.C., Funke, G., Landry, M.L., Richter, S.S. and Warnock, D.D.  11th Edition, Volume II, 2015. ASM Press.