Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Health

FDA: No Miami-area blood donations during Zika investigation

RECOMMENDED READING


MIAMI — Federal authorities have told blood centers in two Florida counties to suspend collections amid investigations into four mysterious cases of Zika infection that may be the first spread by mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland.

Blood centers in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas were asked to immediately stop collecting blood until they can screen each unit of blood for the Zika virus with authorized tests, according to a statement on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

Florida health officials have said the infections in Miami-Dade and Broward counties may not be linked to travel outside the U.S., but they have not confirmed how the virus spread.

Investigators are going door-to-door in the affected areas to talk with residents and collect samples. No mosquitoes collected from those areas so far have tested positive for Zika, said Jennifer Meale, spokeswoman for the state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The FDA recommends that neighboring counties also implement the same precautions "to help maintain the safety of the blood supply as soon as possible."

Visitors to South Florida in the last month are being urged to defer donations as well.

The FDA previously advised U.S. blood banks to refuse donations from people who recently travelled to areas outside the country that have Zika outbreaks.

Florida's main supplier of blood said it was working as quickly as possible to comply with the FDA's "unanticipated" request and would start testing all its collections for Zika on Friday.

OneBlood suspended collections earlier this week in the areas of Miami-Dade and Broward counties that are being investigated, according to a statement released Thursday.

The FDA is working with companies making the blood screening tests available to expand their operations, and blood centers nationwide can do this testing even without the transmission of Zika by local mosquitoes, Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement Thursday.

Blood banks in Texas and Hawaii have begun or soon will start testing blood donations for the Zika virus. Puerto Rico suspended blood donations and imported blood products for the month of March until U.S. health officials approved the use of an experimental test to screen blood donations for the virus.

Messages left Thursday for officials at the Florida Department of Health were not immediately returned. Miami-Dade County's Department of Solid Waste Management released a statement saying mosquito control inspectors are spraying pesticides and eliminating mosquito breeding sites in response to both to residents' complaints and health department requests.

Residents are reminded that they are the first line of defense against the spread of mosquito-borne viruses. Residents can help by draining any standing water outside their homes, covering areas where standing water is likely to accumulate, and using mosquito repellent outdoors.

Zika is mainly spread by mosquitoes, as well as sex. So far, the 1,400 infections reported in the U.S. — including 383 in Florida — have been linked to travel to countries in Latin America or the Caribbean with Zika outbreaks.

There have been no reports of the virus in the country's blood supply, though FDA officials have said Zika transmission through blood is possible.

The virus causes only a mild illness in most people, but scientists have confirmed that infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects.

The tropical mosquito that spreads Zika and other viruses is found in the southern U.S. While health officials have predicted that mosquitoes in the continental U.S. would begin spreading Zika this summer, they also have said they expect only isolated clusters of infections and not widespread outbreaks.

Comments

Owning dogs may be great for your heart and lower risk of death, study finds

Dog ownership correlates with lower rates of mortality and some fatal diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, a study published this past week concluded.The study in the journal Scientific Reports found that canine ownership was associated wit...
Published: 11/19/17
New shingles vaccine touted as a breakthrough for older adults

New shingles vaccine touted as a breakthrough for older adults

Medical researchers and government health policymakers, a cautious lot, normally take pains to keep expectations modest when they’re discussing some new finding or treatment.They warn about studies’ limitations. They point out what isn’t known. They ...
Published: 11/17/17
BayCare’s HealthHub breaks ground behind Valrico shopping center

BayCare’s HealthHub breaks ground behind Valrico shopping center

VALRICO — Health care officials broke ground Thursday on the long anticipated HealthHub at Bloomingdale, which will bring about 150 jobs to an area that’s experiencing tremendous growth and provide patients with the latest in technological care.A pro...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/19/17
In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

Despite the budget cuts, the attempts to repeal and replace, and reports of sharp rises in premiums, Floridians and other Americans are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at record rates this year.Enrollment has surged 47 p...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Study: Mental quickness exercises can lower risk of dementia

Study: Mental quickness exercises can lower risk of dementia

Where did I leave my keys?As we age, it can take longer to answer a question like that.Humans begin to lose cognitive ability at age 25. Dementia, or the decline of memory most commonly seen in aging adults, takes hold early on and is gradual, but ac...
Published: 11/16/17
Blood pressure of 130 is the new ‘high,’ according to update of guidelines

Blood pressure of 130 is the new ‘high,’ according to update of guidelines

The nation’s heart experts tightened the guidelines for high blood pressure Monday, a change that will sharply increase the number of U.S. adults considered hypertensive in the hope that they, and their doctors, will address the deadly condition earl...
Published: 11/13/17
Are Honey Nut Cheerios healthy? A look inside the box

Are Honey Nut Cheerios healthy? A look inside the box

I had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios recently. It had been awhile. Regular Cheerios are more my thing. But sometimes I finish my box faster than my kids do and find myself straying to their side of the cupboard.Honey Nut is America’s best-selling break...
Published: 11/11/17
Owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg faces federal inquiry over funds for low-income patients

Owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg faces federal inquiry over funds for low-income patients

The corporate owner of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg could be facing a serious federal investigation related to its commitment to take care of St. Petersburg’s poorest residents.In its most recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commiss...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/14/17
Father in New Tampa uses monkey Kookabuk to help young autism patients

Father in New Tampa uses monkey Kookabuk to help young autism patients

As a 7-year-old boy, Kevin Howard spent months in the hospital with a bone infection in his leg.A stuffed monkey named Kookabuk helped him make it through the scary experience."I was told he had magical powers," Howard said of the monkey, a gift from...
Published: 11/07/17
Updated: 11/19/17
Learn to practice gratitude year-round, not just on Thanksgiving

Learn to practice gratitude year-round, not just on Thanksgiving

Is it part of your Thanksgiving tradition to go around the dinner table and have everyone share one thing they are thankful for? The exercise reminds us that the day is about more than just turkey and pie. And, for those who take it seriously, it for...
Published: 11/07/17
Updated: 11/10/17