March 11, 2016 – As an additional safety measure against the emerging Zika virus outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidance providing recommendations to blood centers to reduce the potential transmission risk of Zika virus from blood donations. These recommendations that go into effect on March 15, 2016, include the deferral of individuals from donating blood if they have been to areas with active Zika virus transmission, potentially have been exposed to the virus, or have had a confirmed Zika virus infection.
While there have been no reports to date of Zika virus entering the U.S. blood supply, the risk of blood transmission is considered likely based on the most current scientific evidence of how Zika virus and similar viruses (flaviviruses) are spread and recent reports of transfusion-associated infection outside of the U.S. beginning March 15, 2016. The Community Blood Center will begin to defer those that have traveled to areas with local Zika virus transmission, or have been exposed to the virus for four weeks after travel or symptom resolution. Active Zika virus transmission areas include Mexico, the Caribbean, Central American, South America and the Pacific Islands. In addition, donors with two or more symptoms after possible exposure are asked to self-defer for 4 weeks after their symptoms have cleared. Symptoms of the Zika virus include a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, muscle and/or joint aches or weakness, eye pain including conjunctivitis (pink eye), and a rash.
According to the AABB (American Association of Blood Banks), travel deferrals at a minimum affect around 2.25 percent of donors nationwide. The Community Blood Center is anticipating this change will have an effect on the number of donors impacted locally. “In order to keep our blood supply safe and meet the needs of patients and hospitals, we would like to invite those who have not traveled to these areas to come in and donate. If you plan to travel to one of these areas, please donate before you leave,” said John Hagins, President & CEO.
To schedule your blood donation to help ensure an adequate blood supply, please call 800-280-4102 or visit www.communityblood.org.