DOH Health Advisory Provides Zika Virus Guidance and Diagnostic Testing Information

In a Jan. 28, 2016, health advisory, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health (DOH) shared two guidance documents related to management and diagnosis of pregnant women and infants with possible Zika virus infection. The documents were originally published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The advisory also provides DOH guidance regarding the testing of diagnostic specimens for Zika virus infection. No Zika virus infections have been identified among PA residents as of Jan. 28, 2016.

Read the advisory.

CDC Interim Guidelines

Interim Guidelines for Pregnant Women During a Zika Virus Outbreak

Interim Guidelines for the Evaluation and Testing of Infants with Possible Congenital Zika Virus Infection

Health care providers should ask all pregnant women and mothers of infants about recent travel. The CDC provides updates on areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission online. Testing for Zika virus is not indicated for women without a travel history to an area with Zika virus transmission.

Get the CDC’s Zika virus FAQs.

Diagnostic Testing for Zika Virus in Pennsylvania

DOH says that no commercially available test currently exists for Zika virus. Physicians and health care providers can contact DOH at 1-877-PA-HEALTH to facilitate testing of suspected Zika virus infections. Clinically and epidemiologically appropriate specimens will be routed to the CDC Arbovirus Diagnostic Laboratory for testing.

Health care providers should note the following:

  • Testing of asymptomatic persons is not recommended in the absence of fetal microcephaly or intracranial calcifications identified on fetal ultrasound of a pregnant patient with relevant travel history. Clinically inappropriate specimens will not be accepted for Zika virus testing.
  • The interim case definition proposed by CDC for use with suspected Zika virus infection is as follows:
    • An illness characterized by acute onset of two or more of the following: fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, or nonpurulent conjunctivitis not explained by other medical conditions, in a person who resides in or has visited an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission within 2 weeks before the onset of symptoms. (see
  • Other arboviruses, including chikungunya and dengue, cause symptoms similar to Zika virus infection and are potentially circulating in the same areas experiencing Zika virus transmission.
    • Patients meeting the suspect Zika virus case definition should also be evaluated for possible dengue or chikungunya virus infection.
    • Diagnostic tests for chikungunya and dengue virus are commercially available. Results from commercial available tests are likely to be available faster than through CDC. This is especially important for clinical management of dengue, as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should specifically be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk for hemorrhage.

PAMED held a media call-in on Jan. 29 on this emerging issue. Learn more.