The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it has collaborated with the Arbovirus Laboratory Network (RELDA) on new guidelines to improve lab confirmation of suspected Zika cases in the Caribbean and Latin America, even as more accurate tests are developed.

“With dengue and chikungunya circulating in the region, diagnosing Zika is a great challenge,” said Maria Guadalupe Guzman, head of the Department of Virology of the Institute of Tropical Medicine Pedro Kouri of Cuba and president of the lab network.

She said a new algorithm for lab detection of the Zika virus will contribute to more accurate diagnosis and more efficient surveillance.

On Friday, PAHO said for health services it is difficult to report cases of Zika because up to 80 per cent of infected people have no symptoms, and many cases of Zika are so mild that people do not seek medical attention – with the most common symptoms being mild fever and rash, muscle or joint pain and conjunctivitis.

PAHO said suspected Zika cases are only confirmed through blood tests.

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