Vol. 8, No. 1
Jan. 2016

CDC issues Zika virus guidance

Jan. 28, 2016
Aedes species mosquito.Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.

CDC recently released two interim guidelines for health care providers concerning potential Zika virus infections. The first guideline deals with caring for pregnant women during a Zika virus outbreak. The second guideline addresses the evaluation and testing of infants with possible congenital Zika virus infection.

CDC is continuing to update the traveler alert list of countries with ongoing transmission of Zika virus. There currently are no confirmed cases in Iowa. The most recent information concerning affected countries, symptoms, treatment, etc. can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.

The following information is for Iowa clinical and hospital laboratories.

CDC guidance is continually changing and we anticipate our guidance will change with it. Please continue to check www.shl.uiowa.edu for updated information regarding Zika Virus.

Diagnostic Testing
Healthcare providers suspecting a potential case of Zika virus should contact the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Center for Acute Disease Epidemiology at 800-362-2736. CADE staff will consult with the provider to determine whether the case meets the CDC testing criteria. If testing is warranted, CADE staff will determine the specimens to collect, send out a pre-populated CDC specimen submission form (CDC 50-34), and make arrangements for the courier to pick up collected specimens and deliver them to the Hygienic Laboratory.

All specimens should be submitted to SHL with a completed Viral and Bacterial PCR and DFA Test Request Form. If not already listed, indicate the specimen type on the “Other” line in the Specimen Information section. Write in Zika testing under the tests requested section and the recommended tests to be performed. Complete the pre-populated CDC specimen submission form CDC 50-34 to send along with the specimen(s). Specimens should be triple packaged as a Category B Biological Substance.

Zika Virus Specimen Collection and Submission Instructions


  • Serum- at least 1.0 mL send cold on ice packs or frozen.
  • IF CSF is already collected and available 0.5mL, send frozen.


  • Serum- at least 1.0 mL, send cold on ice packs or frozen.
  • Amniotic fluid or cord blood- at least 1.0 mL, send frozen.
  • Placenta- send portion in sterile container, send frozen.
Note: samples that are to be sent frozen should be frozen as immediately as possible after collection.

Laboratory safety
Zika virus is classified as a biological safety level (BSL) 2 pathogen. It should be handled in accordance with Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) guidelines and a laboratory risk assessment should be performed for the specific procedures utilized for testing specimens from patients suspected of carrying the virus.

Technical Questions for SHL: Contact Dr. Wade Aldous (319) 335-4765; Jeff Benfer, Molecular Biology Supervisor (319) 335-4276; or Michelle Sexton, Maternal Screening Supervisor (319) 335-4434.

For information on Zika virus infection