The Zika virus has been spreading at an alarming rate throughout the U.S. People have been especially worried since the virus has been linked to pregnancy-related issues.
According to the World Health Organizaton (WHO), the disease is caused by Aedes mosquitoes and its symptoms mainly include fever, conjunctivitis, joint and muscle pain to name a few. Mothers who are infected by the virus during pregnancy may give birth to a child with severe neurological disorders.
Pregnant women are now encouraged by their doctors to go for tests before childbirth, since the disease has been linked to the development of microcephaly and Guillain Barre Syndrome among babies while the child is a fetus.
Amongst all the panic, it has now come to light that Washington D.C's public health laboratory, which had tested over 400 people for the Zika virus, had provided erroneous results to the patients.
An inspection by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) led to the revelation that all testing done in the Washington lab had returned negative results for the virus. CDC experts began working with the lab from January this year and were quick to notice that the officials were skipping a step during testing, which led to all results being negative.
Nearly 409 people were tested faultily from July 14, 2016, to Dec. 14, 2016. Out of these, an alarming 294 samples belonged to pregnant women.
Steps Taken By The CDC
Post the revelation of these mistaken tests, the CDC has re-tested all 294 samples from the pregnant women themselves and sent the other 115 to other approved health labs.
Two samples belonging to pregnant women have already been confirmed to be infected with the falvivirus by the CDC after re-testing. The D.C laboratory had originally concluded that both these women did not have the Zika virus disease.
"What that means is that we did see evidence of past infection, but we can't say for sure it's Zika," said Dr. Wendi Kuhnert-TallmanKuhnert who leads the CDC's Zika lab task force.
Reaction From Patients
These revelations that the D.C lab had made mistakes while testing them shocked many. Among them, the pregnant women were understandably panic stricken.
"And now, it's eight months later and you're telling me this test was not done properly? That's terrifying," stated Melissa Levitt, who is due to give birth to her child in March and was tested by the lab in August 2016.
CDC officials have reassured the worried public that other labs are testing correctly for the virus and their results are dependable.