Backlog of Zika tests increasing, state health officials calling on CDC for more help

Florida is getting help to improve turnaround time
Posted at 8:15 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 20:15:11-04

Zika cases continue to rise in Florida as the state announced Thursday seven more non-travel related infections.

ABC Action News is uncovering the reason there could be more infections that state officials don't even know about. 

A backlog of Zika tests is building everyday.  The Florida Department of Health has provided free Zika testing to 2,328 pregnant women since free testing began. 

But state laboratories can't keep pace with the demand, leaving some women waiting for up to five weeks for results. 

"When the Governor first announced that free testing would be available, of course everybody was calling our office 'should I get this?,'" said Dr. Don Wilson, Chief Medical Officer of Women's Care Florida, a healthcare provider with 65 facilities spanning from Tampa to Orlando. 

 "Perhaps it could've been a little bit better coordinated in a way so that the health departments were prepared for it," said Dr. Wilson. 

A Zika infection can cause miscarriages and severe birth defects. 

"They need to be able to know that they're baby is going to be fully developed and so we are going to do everything we can to do it as fast as we can but the federal government's gotta show up," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. 

Gov. Scott was in St. Petersburg Thursday, fresh from a trip to Washington D.C. lobbying for more Zika funding.  

ABC Action News asked Gov. Scott what his office is doing to improve the turnaround time for getting test results back to pregnant women. 

"We bought more equipment, we've asked for support from the CDC, finally this week they've sent down some more lab people and we're going to need more lab people," said Scott. "We need to stop the politics and get something done."

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is sending seven lab technicians to assist in speeding up the process.  

The Florida Department of Health also recently started to contract some of the testing to a private company, LabCorp, for quicker responses.