Zika Testing

The right Zika test for you may depend on how long ago you had symptoms or were possibly exposed to Zika, whether or not you are pregnant, and where you live. You might need more than one kind of test to determine if you have or had Zika. Not everyone who might be exposed to Zika needs to be tested.

Kinds of Zika virus tests

1) RNA NAT (Nucleic Acid Testing) is usually done within 2 weeks of when symptoms start or possible exposure to Zika virus (through travel or sex).
RNA NAT tests look for Zika virus, usually in blood or urine. The Trioplex Real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (Trioplex rRT-PCR) can detect Zika virus as well as dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Who can have RNA NAT testing for Zika virus?

  • Anyone with symptoms of Zika virus that started within the last two weeks
  • Pregnant women with or without symptoms who might have been exposed to Zika within the last two weeks*
  • Pregnant women who live in places with ongoing risk of Zika virus transmission might have this testing as a routine part of their pregnancy care in the 1st and 2nd trimesters

What do my results mean?

  • A positive RNA NAT test for Zika means that you have Zika virus, and no other testing is needed.
  • A negative result doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have Zika virus; it might just mean that the virus is no longer detectable in your body. You should still have antibody testing to try and rule out Zika virus.

2) Antibody Tests (also called serological tests) are usually done 2-12 weeks after symptoms start or after last possible exposure to Zika virus (through travel or sex).
Antibody tests look for proteins the body makes to fight Zika infection. The Zika IgM Antibody Capture Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (Zika MAC-ELISA) looks for Zika virus antibodies in blood or in fluid taken from the spinal column (cerebrospinal fluid).

Who can have antibody testing for Zika virus?

  • Anyone who had symptoms of Zika virus and might have been exposed to Zika within the last 2-12 weeks
  • Pregnant women with or without symptoms who might have been exposed to Zika within the last 2-12 weeks*
  • Pregnant women who live in places with ongoing risk of Zika virus transmission might have this testing as a routine part of their pregnancy care in the 1st and 2nd trimesters
  • Women who want to become pregnant and who live in places with ongoing risk of Zika virus transmission might have this test as a baseline to help interpret any future Zika testing they might have during the pregnancy

What do my results mean?

  • A negative Zika antibody test means there is no evidence of Zika virus infection and no need for further testing.
  • A positive or unclear antibody test result will be confirmed by RNA NAT or another test called a Plaque Reduction Neutralization Test (PRNT). The PRNT test tells if the antibodies you have are actually from Zika virus, or if they are from another related virus, such as dengue.
Not everyone needs to have Zika virus testing

Testing is not recommended for children, men, or non-pregnant women without symptoms, even if they might have been exposed to Zika through travel or sex.

Testing is not the best way to know if it is safe to become pregnant. If you might have been exposed, you should wait the recommended time before trying to conceive a pregnancy (see How to Prevent Getting or Spreading the Zika Virus).

Testing is not the best way to know if you could pass the virus to someone else through sex. If you might have been exposed, you should take steps to prevent passing Zika to someone else (see How to Prevent Getting or Spreading the Zika Virus).

*All pregnant women who traveled to an area with a Zika Travel Notice should be tested. Pregnant women who traveled to any other area with a risk of Zika (but no Zika Travel Notice) and who do not have symptoms should talk with their health care providers to see if they should be tested. These charts can help healthcare providers make decisions about how and when to test pregnant women for Zika:

Recommendations by Geographic Location
Zika Pregnancy Testing Algorithm

How to get tested for Zika virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with state and local health departments, are testing for Zika virus. Your health care provider can contact your state or local health department for testing information.

Some private labs also offer Zika testing. Information on the specific testing, time to results, forms and who qualifies for testing can be found on the companies’ websites including: