Health Highlights: May 13, 2016

Health Highlights: May 13, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Urine Test Better at Detecting Zika Virus Infection: CDC

In what could signal a significant advance in the fight against Zika virus, U.S. health officials reported Tuesday that urine tests seem far more effective at detecting the infection than a traditional blood test.

If subsequent trials come to the same conclusion, the urine test could make it much easier to test for the mosquito-borne illness, which usually causes mild symptoms in most people but can cause devastating birth defects in newborns whose mothers have been infected.

There’s been an epidemic of Zika infections in Latin America and the Caribbean in the last year. Brazil has been especially hard hit, with nearly 5,000 confirmed or suspected cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brains.

Mosquito season is just beginning in Gulf Coast states such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas, and health officials say it’s just a matter of time before mosquitoes start to spread the disease in the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday on head-to-head testing done in Florida on people with suspected Zika infection. Officials found that a urine test was 95 percent effective at spotting Zika infection, compared to 56 percent for a blood test.

Also, a urine test could still detect the virus up to two weeks after the appearance of symptoms, compared to about one week for a blood test.

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