There is no vaccine. No medication. And, no quick, reliable test for Zika virus … until now. Babies born with the virus often have lifelong, devastating birth defects. Testing for the virus currently involves trained medical staff drawing and mailing blood samples to a lab, a process that can take up to four weeks.
"Most adults with Zika have mild flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all. Couples trying to conceive might not even know if they are infected and at risk," Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak urology scientist Laura Lamb, Ph.D., said.
Dr. Lamb and her Beaumont colleagues developed a quick, simple test for Zika virus so easy to administer, you don't even need a doctor. It's a urine test that produces results in under 30 minutes.
"When we discovered we could reliably detect Zika virus in urine, we knew we had the potential to change lives all over the world," Dr. Lamb said.
Now, Dr. Lamb and her team are working on applying the same concept to testing for other infectious diseases.
"We are currently working on developing a urine-based test that would allow for rapid and accurate detection of not only Zika, but also viruses such as dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and West Nile virus," she added. "Detecting these viruses earlier allows us to provide treatment faster and potentially save lives."
The urine test is still in the research phase and requires additional funding and resources to allow people across the country and around the world to benefit.
Over the past two years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 5,274 cases of Zika virus reported in the United States.