They will be performed for hospital patients only, however, and won't be available to people across the country, said James Versalovic, pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children's, who helped lead the test development team. "We want to avoid being faced with overwhelming demand from other hospitals," Versalovic said.
The new test can detect genetic material specific to the Zika virus.
At least 82 American travelers have been diagnosed with Zika after visiting areas with outbreaks and returning to the USA, according to the CDC. Health officials expects hundreds more to develop the virus because of travel, especially as Americans visit Brazil for the Olympic games this summer. The mosquito that spreads the Zika virus, the Aedes aegypti, lives along in the South, mostly on the coast. Many public health officials fear that the Gulf Coast could be vulnerable to Zika, due both to its climate and pockets of poverty.
All of that could put pressure on public health labs, which could struggle to keep up with the demand for Zika tests, Versalovic said.