October 4, 2016
Thank you for continuing to provide your patients with information about the actions they can take to prevent Zika Virus Infection. Although mosquito season in the Commonwealth will end on October 31, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will continue to conduct Zika virus disease surveillance and provide you with policy updates. Today’s updates include Updated Public Health Zika Testing Process and new CDC Recommendations for Preconception Counseling and Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus.
New Public Health/DCLS Zika Testing Process The revision reserves public health testing for pregnant women who have been exposed to Zika virus (through travel, sex, or mosquito bites), fetuses or infants of those women, persons with neurologic manifestations (such as Guillain-Barre syndrome) with no other explanation, and unusual situations, such as possible sexual-, transfusion-, or local-transmission related cases. The use of private laboratories is encouraged for other patients, such as those who are not pregnant and have uncomplicated travel-related illnesses. Public health testing at DCLS still requires prior approval by your local health department.
When submitting specimens for public health testing, please complete all forms in their entirety: The information requested on these forms helps DCLS determine how each specimen will be tested for Zika virus, the final interpretation of test results, and how results will be reported. Detailed instructions can be found on the DCLS website, under the “Hot Topics.”
Updated CDC Recommendations for Preconception Counseling and Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus for Persons with Possible Zika Virus Exposure are now available. Women and men who are planning to become pregnant in the near future should consider avoiding nonessential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission. CDC now recommends that all men with possible Zika virus exposure wait at least 6 months after symptoms onset or last Zika exposure before attempting to conceive a child. Recommendations for women planning to conceive remain unchanged (wait to conceive until at least 8 weeks after symptom onset or last Zika exposure). Other couples with possible Zika virus exposure who want to minimize their risk for sexual transmission of Zika virus should use a condom or abstain from sex for the same periods for men and women described above. Please consult the MMWR article for more details.
Please visit the VDH Zika Virus website for both clinical information and tools that you may use to provide guidance to your patients.
Hughes Melton, MD, MBA, FAAFP, FABAM
Chief Deputy Commissioner