Dallas County Wants to Test for Zika Virus Locally

There is growing concern that the Zika virus, suspected of causing birth defects in infants, may begin to show up in North Texas.

"We will not be shocked to see imported cases coming into the United States because of the travel," said Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson.

Now Dallas County is asking for approval to test for the virus locally, rather than send suspected blood samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

That would allow the county health department to get results more quickly.

"Zika is an emerging disease. We're getting guidance almost weekly," said Thompson. "And we're taking the proactive step of seeking certification of our lab so that we can be able to so the test locally."

"Having Zika is something that you really don't want to have," said Sherry Dean-Rovello, of Desoto, who said she contracted the mosquito-borne virus during a recent trip to Central America.

"It's like a pretty bad case of the flu," said Dean-Rovello. "So lots of joint swelling, a fever. I had migraine headaches that started it off."

Now she's waiting for her test results to come back from the CDC.

"It was hard to me to walk for a couple days," said Dean-Rovello. "Just walking was very painful."

Dallas County hopes the CDC will approve local testing by May, when the start of mosquito season in North Texas could spread any imported cases.

On Tuesday, the CDC issued new guidelines on when to test for Zika in newborns whose mothers traveled to affected areas during their pregnancy.

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