Health care professionals can help determine whether an individual has been exposed to the Zika virus, according to a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
The report found that a diagnosis can help a person understand their risk of contracting the Zika infection, and that the number of people who test positive may be a measure of how likely they are to develop the infection.
If a person has tested positive for Zika, the healthcare provider may order an initial blood test and then perform a follow-up test, which could also test for other Zika virus symptoms, the report said.
The report recommends that healthcare providers consider their patients’ history and health status when making decisions about their Zika diagnosis.
The first step to diagnosis, the authors said, should be to ask patients about their travel history, including the date, time and place of their last trip to a country with Zika, and the destination, the hospital or clinic where they have visited.
If the person’s travel history has not been consistent, the person may be in a travel quarantine zone, which means they cannot travel.
A travel quarantine may last for a day or more and require the person to stay in the quarantine zone for the duration of the quarantine, according the authors.
If the person has visited a country that is in the Zika zone and has not tested positive, the health care provider should determine whether the person is an “expository Zika case,” which means the person who is in a zone of Zika exposure may not have been exposed, and ask for more information.
Expository cases are more likely to have had an infected partner or a recent travel or sexual activity, and are less likely to be in quarantine.
Expository people may also be more likely than unexpository individuals to be under the care of a healthcare provider, the researchers found.
For people who have traveled to the same country as an infected person, a healthcare professional should also ask them about any medical or health-care complications they may have experienced, and whether they are taking antiviral medications.
The healthcare professional may also ask about any new symptoms they may be experiencing, such as fever, rash, muscle pain, joint pain or muscle aches.
If there are no other symptoms, a care provider may also question whether there are other Zika-related travel risks, such in-person travel to places with travel restrictions, or travel to an isolated area or rural area, the study found.
Exposing healthcare providers to Zika in such situations may also lead to a risk of infection.
The authors also recommended that healthcare professionals consider the risk of Zika infection to their patients when deciding to treat them.