The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to a new, three-in-one laboratory test for Zika virus and a few other dangerous viruses, the Washington Post reported Friday. The test will be distributed to qualified labs across the country over the next two weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The newly approved test — which allows doctors to determine whether a person is currently infected with Zika, chikungunya or dengue in a single test — could speed up the diagnosis of Zika. While the test, Trioplex Real-time RT-PCR Assay, will not be available in hospitals or other primary-care settings, it will be distributed to facilities in the Laboratory Response Network, a network of labs that respond to public health emergencies.
At least 258 Americans have contracted Zika while traveling abroad, according to the CDC. The outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus has prompted the World Health Organization to declare it a “public health emergency of international concern.” The virus has run rampant in Brazil and is currently being investigated in connection with the country’s uptick in a birth defect known as microcephaly, a neurological disorder resulting in babies born with an abnormally small head.
There is no vaccine for the virus yet. Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and bloodshot eyes, and the illness is typically mild, with symptoms lasting from several days to a week, according to the CDC.