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Few people have been screened so far in United States for Zika virus, data shows

A nurse practitioner holds a box of insect repellent and information on mosquito protection that she gives her pregnant patients at the Borinquen Medical Center, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016 in Miami.
Lynne Sladky | AP

Just a relative handful of people have gotten screened for the Zika virus, so far, in the United States, according to data from a leading electronic health records company.

Athenahealth said Wednesday that a search of its database of 81 million or so patient health records shows that just 1,435 tests for Zika have been performed nationally.

The total number of tests of all patients — which would also include patients outside of Athenahealth's cloud network — isn't known.

But the size of Athenahealth's database, which includes more than 80,000 health providers, suggests that the total number of Zika tests administered across the nation isn't large relative to either the number of people known to have contracted the virus, or to the number of people particularly at risk from it.

There have been more than 1,650 cases of Zika in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika, which is spread via mosquito bites, from pregnant women to their babies, and from sex, can lead to serious birth defects, including abnormally small heads in babies.

Athenahealth said that the "vast majority" of Zika tests it has identified to date "is done on women of childbearing age."

A total of 89 percent of the tests have been done on women, of which 93 percent were for women between the ages of 19 and 44, according to the company.

"The second-most tested group is men ages 19-44, perhaps as a precaution against infecting women," Athenahealth said. Sixty-two percent of men being tested are in that age group.

Athenahealth said that it plans to publish information about initial Zika patterns that it has observed within the company's network on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Athenahealth said that it had partnered with a Miami health-care provider to do outreach and encourage Zika screening for more than 1,300 women and men age 45 and younger who live in a small neighborhood that the CDC has identified as being the site of mosquito-borne virus transmissions.

Another 500 or so such people at risk of Zika have also been identified by Athenahealth as living in that neighborhood. The company is in talks with other health providers to do outreach to many of those patients.