The Latest On Zika Virus: Texas Just Developed A Much-Needed Rapid Diagnostic Test

The Zika virus, which is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is strongly suspected to be linked to a new wave of microcephaly cases in Brazil. Babies born with this birth defect have smaller heads and sometimes brains that aren’t fully developed, which can result in life-long developmental problems.

Zika is currently spreading through Central and South America and the Caribbean, and with the high volume of news about the virus, it’s tough to stay up-to-date. Check out our full coverage, or read our daily recaps.

Here are four updates, opinions and developments to know about now:

1. Texas has rapid Zika virus tests

One of the major hurdles to controlling the Zika virus epidemic is that doctors don’t have any tests that can rapidly and accurately diagnose a person with the disease. Now two Texas hospitals say they have developed those rapid tests, and can spit out results in hours, as opposed to the weeks it normally takes, reports Reuters.

The tests are available only at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and Houston Methodist Hospital, but officials are exploring ways to let other scientists benefit from their work. Texas has been pegged as a high-risk state for Zika virus spread in the U.S., based on their history of small dengue fever and chikungunya virus outbreaks. Both diseases are transmitted by the same mosquito that carries Zika virus.

2. Puerto Rico freezes the price of condoms to prevent profiteering

U.S. health officials fear that the territory of Puerto Rico, which has already had several cases of locally transmitted Zika virus, is poised to experience a widespread outbreak of the disease. This is because they’ve recorded tens of thousands of dengue fever cases in the past, and both dengue and Zika virus are carried by the same —> Read More