The U.S. Food and Drug administration, also known as the FDA, has released a statement advising the testing of all donated blood and blood components in the United States for traces of the Zika virus.
“There is still much uncertainty regarding the nature and extent of Zika virus transmission,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in a statement. “At this time, the recommendation for testing the entire blood supply will help ensure that safe blood is available for all individuals who might need transfusion.”
Testing has already been happening in both Florida and Puerto Rico, but now the FDA is suggesting all blood be tested after, “taking into consideration the potential serious health consequences of Zika virus infection to pregnant women and children born to women exposed to Zika virus during pregnancy.”
The Miami Herald, which provides daily updates and tracking of Zika activity in the area, has reported at least 45 locally transmitted Zika cases as of September 1. Local authorities also worry that current hurricane activity in the area may add to the mosquito population, increasing risk of transmission. Miami is the first location in the continental U.S. to report local transmission of the
As the virus spreads, and travel-related cases are reported further and further north, it seems only a matter of time before Canadian authorities enact the same measures. As of September 1, there have been 247 travel-related cases of the Zika virus, two sexually transmitted cases and two reports of maternal-to-fetal transmission of the virus detected in Canada. Fourteen pregnancies have been reported among Canadian Zika-infected women, including one that resulted in congenital anomalies. There have been no cases of local transmission of the Zika virus in Canada. Local transmission is unlikely due to the climate being unsuitable for many potential Zika-carrying mosquito varieties.
Joanna Ward, Specialty News Editor