So many pregnant women have taken advantage of Florida’s offer of free Zika testing that state laboratories have been unable to keep pace, doctors and patients say, leading to long delays for women anxious to know whether the virus has passed to their fetuses.
The delays began with a well-intentioned and much-applauded offer.
On Aug. 3, Gov. Rick Scott announced that the state would provide the costly Zika tests to all pregnant women, a move intended to quell fears and allow low-income or uninsured women to be tested. Babies infected with Zika can be born with microcephaly, a devastating brain malformation, or with eye and ear defects.
“We’re ramping that up across the entire state,” Mr. Scott said at the time.
But hundreds of women in Miami-Dade County, where Zika is spreading, have been waiting weeks for state results on the same kinds of tests that private laboratories are turning around in three to seven days, doctors said. For some women, the delays could complicate already distressing decisions about whether to terminate their pregnancies if they test positive. Florida forbids abortions after 24 weeks.
State health officials declined to say how many tests had been done, provide a reason for the delay or explain how they planned to remedy it. But doctors and researchers attributed some of the delay to a lack of resources, with not enough staff members to analyze the test results.