By Kristin Weisell


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It’s about to be much easier for North Texas doctors to test for the Zika virus.

The FDA gave emergency authorization to Quest Diagnostics to develop the first commercial Zika test.

“This will now make it easier for tests to be widely available,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Physicians need to know if their patients are infected with Zika.”

The test will tell a patient if they’re currently infected, but it can’t tell if a person had previously been infected.

“It isn’t perfect yet but this test is going to be an important tool,” says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt. “We just have to use it widely, and doctors will have to understand its limits and communicate that to their patients.”

Medical experts say it’ll be much more efficient to have this new test in local doctors’ hands. Until now, much of the testing for Zika was done at state laboratories or sent off to the CDC.

North Texas has already seen multiple cases of the Zika virus. Six cases were reported in Dallas County, and two in Tarrant County. All of those cases were a result of traveling to affected areas.

Recent research has confirmed the Zika virus is linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that affects brain development and leaves babies with shrunken heads.

This new commercial test will be available some time next week.

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