Gov. Scott seeks more workers to speed Zika tests


Amid gripes that pregnant women are waiting four weeks or longer for results of Zika tests, Gov. Rick Scott said the CDC has provided state labs with seven workers to help speed the process.

“While these additional personnel will help to expedite Zika testing, we know that there is an increasing demand for testing throughout our state and we must be prepared to respond,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott said he has asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide more lab workers. Since the Florida Department of Health began offering free tests to pregnant women in early August, some 2,200 expectant mothers have been tested.

The Health Department tells patients to expect to wait about two weeks for results, but Dr. Anthony Shaya, an OB-GYN in Jupiter, said his patients have waited as long as four weeks.

“We are having trouble getting results,” Shaya said.

Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the Health Department’s Palm Beach County operations, said most results come in faster than that.

“I’ve been told it takes about two weeks,” he said. “That’s what we’re advising our patients.”

For most Floridians, Zika isn’t especially scary. Some 80 percent of people afflicted with the mosquito-borne virus show no symptoms. And for those who suffer from a fever, rash or red eyes, the ill effects are typically mild and fleeting.

But for expectant mothers, Zika is terrifying. The virus can penetrate the placenta barrier and cause severe brain defects in the fetus.

The Department of Health offers Zika tests at its locations in Delray Beach, Lantana, Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach. Nurses collect urine and blood samples, which are sent to state labs in Miami or Jacksonville for testing.

For expectant mothers who value convenience and a quick answer over saving money, LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics also offer Zika tests. Patients can pay as much as $300 for those tests, said Dr. Samuel Lederman, an OB-GYN in suburban Lake Worth.

The private labs are returning results in as little as a week, Lederman said. None of Lederman’s patients had tested positive, but if a private lab were to find a Zika infection, it would send the samples to the state for confirmation, O’Connor said.

The CDC says pregnant women need a test only if they’ve traveled to an area of active transmission, such as Puerto Rico, Brazil, Miami Beach or the Wynwood district in Miami.

“If somebody has had no exposure, I try to discourage them,” Lederman said.

As of Thursday, 86 pregnant women in Florida had Zika. The virus doesn’t necessarily reach the baby, but OB-GYNs watch the fetuses of infected mothers closely, conducting additional ultrasounds to monitor the development of the baby’s head.

“There’s not much you can do but watch,” Lederman said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Paul Manafort, Rick Gates face new charges: report
Paul Manafort, Rick Gates face new charges: report

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, and Rick Gates, who served as a campaign aide, are facing new charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's criminal case against the pair, Politico reported Wednesday.
4 things to know about Billy Graham
4 things to know about Billy Graham

Evangelical leader Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions of people worldwide, died Wednesday at 99.  Graham, the son of a North Carolina farmer, started preaching throughout the south and midwest. He was “born again” after hearing a preacher’s service in 1934 in Charlotte, North Carolina, according...
Celebrities, politicians react to Billy Graham’s death
Celebrities, politicians react to Billy Graham’s death

Celebrities and politicians are reacting to the news of the death of Rev. Bill Graham. >> Read more trending news  Known around the world, the evangelist preached to millions of people into his mid-90s. He died at his Montreat, North Carolina, home Wednesday at 99 years old. He had been battling cancer, pneumonia and a number of other...
Billy Graham-Richard Nixon tapes: The one time Graham’s image was tarnished
Billy Graham-Richard Nixon tapes: The one time Graham’s image was tarnished

As Americans mourn the death of evangelist Billy Graham, you would be hard-pressed to find a time where “America’s Pastor” was held in anything other than the highest regard. Graham managed during 60 years of preaching the Gospel to sidestep even a hint of scandal -- sexual, financial or otherwise. However a revelation in 1994...
Billy Graham quotes: He made Christian principles accessible to millions
Billy Graham quotes: He made Christian principles accessible to millions

Evangelist Billy Graham died Wednesday at age 99 at his North Carolina home. Graham, who preached Christianity to millions around the world, was also a confidant of U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush. Here are some quotes from the man who became known as “America’s Pastor.”   The greatest legacy...
More Stories