U.S. lab mistakes force hundreds of Zika tests to be repeated

A public health laboratory in Washington D.C. was forced to repeat Zika tests for hundreds of pregnant women after a review revealed that technicians conducting the tests were skipping a step in the procedure.

Officials told reporters that the national capital’s public health laboratory repeated Zika tests for nearly 300 pregnant women after a routine check in December divulged that all tests were coming back negative.

A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) said the revelation raised concerns about the tests’ accuracy, prompting officials to order the technicians to repeat the tests.

The spokesperson added that 409 specimens were selected and sent for re-testing, including samples taken from 294 pregnant women. The federal agency is re-testing all the samples from pregnant women. The remaining 115 specimens from men and non-pregnant women were sent to other public health labs.

The faulty tests were reportedly conducted between July 14th and December 14th of last year.

The mosquito-borne virus, which infected more than 500,000 people in nearly three dozen countries in 2015, is particularly devastating for pregnant women because it causes birth defects, including serious damage on the brain and nervous system of their developing babies.