Federal health officials are giving a Seattle company $5.1 million to develop a test that could speed up detection of the rapidly spreading Zika virus.
The test being developed by InBios International will reduce diagnosis time from days to hours, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report.
The blood test will return results in about four hours, while the current test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires two to three days.
The development program is set to take two years, but the agreement can be extended for additional work through 2021. The total to InBios would be about $9.5 million.
"Doctors and patients need Zika test results quickly so that health care providers can offer appropriate guidance and treatment to their patients, particularly pregnant women and their partners," said Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Nicole Lurie.
The virus normally causes a mild infection, with symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis.
However, the disease is highly dangerous though during the first trimester of pregnancy, as it causes a birth defect called micocephaly, which causes the baby to have an abnormally small head and leads to brain damage.
Florida has discovered 14 cases of the virus transmitted through mosquito bites in the last week, the first locally transmitted cases in the nation. More than 1,600 cases have been found throughout the U.S., but almost all of them have been in people who traveled to one of the 50 countries where Zika is spreading.