FDA expands Zika screening to all US blood centers

Author

27 August, 2016

While Zika is primarily spread through mosquito bites, there have been reports in Brazil of Zika transmission through transfusion.

"As more is learned about the incidence and duration of seminal shedding of Zika virus in infected men, recommendations to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus will be updated if needed", the CDC researchers said.

The current Zika outbreak was first detected in Brazil a year ago and has since spread across the Americas.

Further, HHS said, as of August 18, there were more than 1,300 pregnant women with evidence of Zika virus, including 529 pregnant women in US states and Washington, D.C., and 691 pregnant women in USA territories.

Zika can also be spread through sex, and Marks said that played into the decision to expand testing.

"With the increase in the number of travel-associated Zika cases in SC and the multiple locations of local transmission in Florida, public concern has grown", he wrote in an email.

Transmission electron micrograph of Zika virus.

Friday's advisory means all US states and territories will need to begin testing blood donations for Zika.

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"Given the frequency of travel of individuals within the United States, there is the risk that people without symptoms infected with Zika virus could donate blood and thereby transmit Zika virus", Marks said. Of course, if it comes back positive we don't transfuse the blood.

The expanded testing of the United States blood supply "will be in effect until the risk of transfusion transmission of Zika virus is reduced", said the FDA.

Separately, health officials in Puerto Rico have reported as many as 10 people who developed the paralyzing neurological disorder known as Guillain-Barre syndrome as a result of Zika infections.

The statewide volume of travel-related Zika is now 545 cases since tracking began, and another 75 infections involve pregnant women.

Blood collection sites already test donations for HIV, hepatitis, West Nile virus and other blood-borne viruses.

The FDA works with other federal agencies to set standards for screening, testing and handling blood donations.

Since its discovery, scientists have found that the Zika virus can also be transmitted through sex.

The CDC recommends women who are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant postpone travel to areas where there is widespread Zika infection. Although 4 out of 5 people infected with Zika virus never develop symptoms, when symptoms do occur they may include fever, arthralgia (joint pain), maculopapular rash (red area with small bumps), and conjunctivitis (red, irritated eyes). While health officials have predicted that mosquitoes in the continental US would begin spreading Zika this summer, they also have said they expect only isolated clusters of infections and not widespread outbreaks.


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