FDA says all blood donations should be tested for Zika virus

Fearing the Zika virus will enter the nation’s blood bank supplies, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday suggested that all blood and blood components be tested for the presence of the Zika virus.

Most people who are infected with the Zika virus have no idea that they have been infected. Only one in five people get symptoms, which include fever, headache, rash, conjunctivitis, sore muscles. Most people have no lasting health problems after contracting the disease. But for pregnant women, the virus can cause severe birth defects in their developing fetuses.

“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. “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.”

A Florida-based blood screening center announced earlier this month that it would begin screening blood donations in Georgia and Alabama in light of concern over the virus.

The virus reached the mainland U.S. in Miami at some point in June and was publicly reported at the of July. It has spread to at least four counties in Florida now, with at least two dozen people infected from bites from local mosquitoes carrying the virus. There are, however, more than 2,500 travel-related cases of Zika in the U.S. There are more than 9,000 in the U.S. and ts territories combined, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those are cases where people got the disease from traveling to one of the many countries in the Americas and the Caribbean that are experiencing outbreaks of the disease.

There are 61 travel related cases of Zika in Georgia so far, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

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