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FDA recommends Zika testing for all blood donated in US

FDA officials said they do not anticipate any problems supplying the tests throughout the U.S. The tropical mosquito that spreads Zika and other viruses is found along the southern U.S. Friday's directive lists 11 states that will need to begin screening blood in the next month due to their location or because of the influx of travelers from Zika outbreak countries.

Three Chatham County residents have so far tested positive for the mosquito-borne Zika virus, though all the cases were associated with travel, the Chatham County Health Department reports. It's the first documented case of a person with no symptoms sexually transmitting the virus to a partner who had not traveled to an area of active Zika circulation.

So far, 43 cases of locally transmitted Zika have been identified in the USA, all in Florida. Dr. Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist said none of these cases are related to the recent flooding event.

Like the staff of Chatham County Mosquito Control, Davis noted that Aedes albopictus, or the tiger mosquito, which is prevalent in Chatham, is not as efficient a carrier of Zika as its cousin Aedes aegypti. "Over the next two weeks, we will expand this testing to four additional states in the south central and southwestern U.S".

More than 2,500 people in the United States have been diagnosed with Zika, along with more than 9,000 in the US territories such as Puerto Rico, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In other cases of sexual transmission, the virus was spread by someone who at some point had symptoms. "Eighteen countries and territories have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases", the group said.

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Ziman said with the testing on top of the questioning already being done about people's travel histories to places where Zika is being spread, she believes the risk of getting Zika through a blood transfusion "is really low".

Baystate Medical Center uses Rhode Island blood center for testing. "However, there has been a lot of rain in the New Orleans area, which does foster the environment where the Zika virus mosquito thrives". The U.S. blood donation system is massive with about one million units of blood collected from each month. The remaining states in that first tier include Alabama, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina and Texas.

The French case involved a couple who had both traveled to Martinique, where Zika was active, and was discovered through a routine blood test a few months after their return. But for pregnant women, the virus can cause severe birth defects in their developing fetuses.

The American Red Cross is working with the FDA and CDC to implement the new donation guidelines.

If no screening test is available, blood collection agencies can purify blood platelets or plasma using one of the FDA's approved methods.

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