Arizona state lab gets national praise for Zika testing

Posted at 6:51 PM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 22:23:06-04

There’s a high-tech lab in the heart of Phoenix and ABC15 got a rare look inside the lab receiving national praise for its Zika virus testing.

For months, health officials have warned of the dangers Zika poses for pregnant women and newborns.

The Arizona Department of Health Services lab is on the front lines of identifying positive samples.

"We're one of the high-risk states because we have the vector mosquito that is capable of carrying Zika virus,” said Victor Waddell, Bureau Chief for the Arizona Department of Health Services and the one heading up the lab's testing efforts.

Scientists perform complicated tests to unlock the secrets of the samples.

RELATED: Pima County confirms first Zika virus case in Arizona

“It's certainly concerning, especially with the negative outcomes with pregnant women, that's the biggest fear we've seen,” said Waddell

There’s two types of tests. One takes just hours to turn around results. Another is more labor intensive and takes two to three days.

Both tests are used to make sure a sample does in fact test positive for the Zika virus instead of delivering a false positive.

State health officials are ready if an outbreak does happen.

"We would go to shifts, we would go to additional staffing from other areas,” explained Waddell.

The lab is one of the first in the country to test for Zika. So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention like what they see from Arizona’s preparation.

In fact, Arizona has been asked to be a role model to teach other state labs how to prepare and test for Zika samples.

Earlier this year, the CDC gave Arizona a $1.8 million grant to work on Zika preparedness.