A lab researcher at the University of Pittsburgh has contracted the Zika virus after accidentally piercing herself with an infected needle during an experiment.
The case is believed to be the United States' first Zika infection acquired in this manner as announced by university officials and the Allegheny County Health Department. The incident occurred on May 23 and the unidentified female lab researcher developed Zika infection symptoms on June 1. On June 6, the woman's fever had gone and she resumed work immediately. By June 8, the university discovered that the woman's blood sample tested positive for Zika virus. Free of fever, the researcher returned to work and is following advice to wear long sleeves and pants and wear insect repellent for three weeks after the date of the needle stick, to prevent possible mosquito exposure to the virus.
Related Article: Zika in 30 seconds: What you need to know
Do direct-to-consumer blood tests pose a threat to consumers, patients and physicians? It could go either way if you believe "Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Lab Tests, No Doctor Required," a recent, New York Times article.
Critics highlight the wide variances in the "healthy" levels of blood biomarkers. Making patients aware of their own values will certainly lead to doctor visits and occasional false alarms. However, the author argues that companies include disclaimers on their sites and advise patients to consult physicians about any concerning results.
Another complaint about DTC tests has to do with regulation. As laboratory tests are not typically regulated by FDA, and because the current regulatory regime is not monitoring the effectiveness of tests but just whether they are administered in a way that does not cause harm, lab testing can be something of a self-regulated "Wild West".
What the critical commentators do not seem to understand is that DTC lab test companies are not exactly entering a saturated market for delivering customers’ own health information to them. Indeed, more than ever before, there is both low supply and large demand for informative and actionable health data. What makes this situation so promising for the DTC companies works on three levels: the consumer, the population and the data.
Continue reading the article to see this unique perspective on DTCs.