Scientists developing blood, urine test as Zika continues to spread to U.S.

More than 200 zika cases reported in Florida, 43 pregnant women

With hundreds of Floridians having been infected with Zika, the comprehensive test for the virus that a Maryland biotech firm has been developing since the beginning of this year could be crucial.

GenArraytion Inc. has been studying the Zika virus and is developing a comprehensive test for it, according to GenArraytion Inc. scientist Paul Schaudies. New4Jax spoke with Schaudies regarding the virus’ impact and how it spreads.

To date, Zika has infected 203 Floridians.

Florida’s first case of Zika was reported the last week of June by a woman from Haiti. So far, all of the reported Zika infections in Florida have been travel-related, according to officials. 

“It’s humans that transport the virus from one location to the other, but it’s mosquitoes that transmit the virus from human to human,” Schaudies said. “So, the mosquitoes in the U.S. will only become infected if they feed on a person with an active Zika infection.”

Area Zika cases by the numbers:

  • Alachua County – 4
  • Clay County – 2
  • Duval County – 3
  • St. Johns County – 2

43 pregnant women are reported to have been infected with Zika in Florida.

Scientists believe pregnant women infected with the virus are responsible for babies being born with deformities associated with microcephaly, giving babies abnormally small heads.

“In adults, the historical facts show that only about 20 to 25 percent of people who are infected demonstrate symptoms, and the active virus is gone in less than a week,” Schaudies said. “The real issue that we’re experiencing now, and you all are in Florida, is that when a pregnant female gets infected, the virus is able to cross the placenta and get into the neuronal tissue, the brain tissue, the nerve tissue of the fetus, and it stays.”

Schaudies said in adults, Zika can cause fever or rash and in some cases cause temporary paralysis.

Schaudies admits there’s still a lot to learn about the Zika virus. He said scientists are certain about one thing; the virus shows up in blood and urine and that’s why it’s so important to have a comprehensive test.