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Just a Few More Weeks

The World Health Organization says that a test to detect the Zika virus is only weeks away, the New York Times reports.

The Zika virus, which has been linked to microcephaly in infants whose mothers were infected, has been spreading throughout Latin America. The virus has also been associated with Guillan-Barré syndrome, though that link is still under investigation, the Times notes.

By the end of the year, the WHO estimates that some 4 million people may be infected. Symptoms typically include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, the Times adds.

Some 20 companies are working on ways to detect the virus in patients, the Times reports. Many of them are working on molecular tests to detect the virus in patients' blood or on tests that measure antibodies levels in patients who have been exposed.

"It is important to point out, however, that none of these tests have been independently validated and none have regulatory approval," said Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO assistant director general for health systems and innovation, at a news conference in Geneva, according to the Times. She noted, though, that "we are talking weeks, not years," for when these tests might become available.

The WHO says that a vaccine is still likely years away.