“Today the FDA issued an advisory that they would like to see all blood collected in the United States tested for the Zika virus.”
The Food and Drug Administration is revising its guidelines for blood donations in an effort to prevent Zika’s spread.
This new advisory means that now all U.S. states, including here in Illinois, will begin testing their blood donations for Zika.
“What it’s going to do is make sure that due diligence is done to make sure that transmissions aren’t occurring during blood transfusions,” said Jennifer Bowman from the Rock River Valley Blood Center. “Because as a blood center, our first and foremost number one objectives at all times are the safety of our patients and our donors.”
The Zika virus only causes a mild illness, with flu-like symptoms in some people.
But an infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects.
Zika is spread primarily through mosquito bites, but can also be spread other ways, including through blood transfusions.
“Obviously they want to reduce the possible transmission of Zika while also maintaining an adequate and safe blood supply in the United States,” said Bowman. “And that’s always our number one goal.”
Bowman says the process from the FDA to blood centers can be arduous; and the extra steps in testing can come with more costs, and more work.
But Jennifer Bowman says this isn’t something Stateliners have to worry about for now.
“We have not had any cases here locally,” she said. “The mosquito is not here, and we have had no reported cases. I was in contact with the Winnebago County Health Department immediately before this discussion, so we know that this is still current information.”