FDA acts to protect blood supply from Zika
The U.S Food and Drug Administration wants health agencies to take extra steps to protect the nation’s blood supply from the Zika virus.
The federal agency today revised its guidance on Zika testing and is recommending that all donated blood in the United States be tested.
In February, when the first travel-related cases arrived in Florida, the agency’s guidance was that testing was only needed in areas where the Zika virus is being locally transmitted. Since the end of July, that has included parts of Florida.
“There is still much uncertainty regarding the nature and extent of Zika virus transmission,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “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.”
The heightened caution is a result of consultation with public health agencies and concern about the severe impacts of the virus on fetuses. Zika has been linked to microcephaly in newborns, a condition where babies are born with smaller than normal skulls and brains and suffer developmental issues.
The Zika virus is transmitted mostly by the Aedes aeqypti mosquito but can also be spread by sexual contact. Symptoms include fever, arthralgia (joint pain), maculopapular rash (red area with small bumps), and conjunctivitis (red, irritated eyes). Roughly 80 percent of infected people never develop symptoms.
Florida has confirmed 43 locally transmitted cases of the virus, including one in Pinellas County that was confirmed on Tuesday. Florida Department of Health Officials say that statewide, mosquitoes are spreading the infection only in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami and in Miami Beach.
Nationwide, some there are 2,517 reported cases, the vast majority as a result of travel to countries where the virus is common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.