FDA issues guidance to keep blood supply safe from Zika virus

The Food and Drug Administration has recommended that people who have visited areas with active Zika virus transmission or who have a confirmed or potential case of the virus defer from donating blood.

The federal agency released the new guidelines for immediate implementation Tuesday in light of the spreading Zika virus outbreak.

The new guidelines include the following instructions:

  • In areas without active Zika virus transmission, donors at risk for Zika virus infection should be deferred for four weeks.
  • In areas with active Zika virus transmission, whole blood and blood components obtained for transfusions should come from areas of the United States without active transmission.
  • Blood establishments should update donor education materials with information on the mosquito-borne illness, including symptoms, and ask potentially affected donors to defer donation.

FDA officials believe these guidelines "will help reduce the risk of collecting blood and blood components from donors who may be infected with the Zika virus," according to Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluations and Research.

In addition to these recommendations, the FDA is prioritizing development of blood screening tests to help identify the virus.

There have been no known instances of the Zika virus entering the U.S. blood supply, but the risk of blood transmission is "likely," according to the FDA.

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