FDA issues new blood donation guidelines due to Zika threat

The FDA has issued new blood donation guidelines to stem the growing Zika threat.
The FDA has issued new blood donation guidelines to stem the growing Zika threat.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued new guidelines for donating blood to travelers that have visited countries with outbreaks of the Zika virus. 

The guidelines will also impact those who might have been exposed to Zika or are a confirmed case.

The FDA is seeking to prevent the spread of a potential outbreak in the U.S., which is likely.

“The FDA has critical responsibilities in outbreak situations and has been working rapidly to take important steps to respond to the emerging Zika virus outbreak,” Luciana Borio, FDA acting chief scientist, said. “We are issuing this guidance for immediate implementation in order to better protect the U.S. blood supply.”

There haven’t been any reported cases of Zika affecting the blood supply, but there are cases of the disease reported in the U.S. In Texas, one case has been transmitted sexually, though most cases are transmitted through mosquitoes. An infant in Hawaii tested positive for microcephaly, which is caused by the mother of the infant being exposed to Zika. Microcephaly causes infants to be born with unusually small heads.

The new guidelines seek to stop people who have been to affected areas, as well as those who have interacted with visitors to infected areas.

“Based on the best available evidence, we believe the new recommendations will help reduce the risk of collecting blood and blood components from donors who may be infected with the Zika virus,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said.

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