FDA Wants all Blood Donations Screened for Zika

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Currently, it is conducting Zika tests in five southeastern states and will expand testing to four additional states in the south central and southwestern USA over the next two weeks, the organization said in a statement.

Friday's advisory means all USA states and territories should begin testing blood donations for Zika. It's the first documented case of a person with no symptoms sexually transmitting the virus to a partner who had not traveled to an area of active Zika circulation.

Procleix, the zika screening test from Hologics and a partner company, has been used by the American Red Cross to screen blood for HIV and hepatitis B and C for many years, Hologic spokeswoman Suzanne Clancy said. Eleven southern and western states must begin testing as soon as feasible, but no later than four weeks (Sept. 23).

The FDA previously advised screening only in areas with active Zika transmission, like parts of Florida and throughout Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico, where Zika arrived in December 2015, health officials have been systematically tracking cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome following reports in other countries showing an increase in cases related to Zika.

CBC is deferring potential donors for 28 days who have traveled to Florida's Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County, as well as the Caribbean, Mexico and Central or South America. Diagnostic tests can not easily discern Zika from related infections, but health officials suspect almost all of the flavivirus infections seen were related to Zika because that is the predominant flavivirus now circulating in Puerto Rico. Roche Molecular Systems' Cobas Zika test became available in April, and Hologic Inc.'s Procleix test was put to use for Zika screening in June. The cost of adding Zika testing to the blood screening process is less than $10, according to officials at South Texas Blood and Tissue Center. More than 40 cases of mosquito-transmitted infection have been reported in South Florida.

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

The new recommendation applies "across the board to anyone collecting blood", explained Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

"We must implement widespread universal screening now to prevent any further contamination of the blood supply before it occurs and to pre-empt a widespread shortfall in the blood supply", stated Reps.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has triggered an epidemic of birth defects that leave newborns with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,500 cases of Zika have been reported in US states and D.C., and more than 9,000 have been reported in USA territories.