FDA says no more blood transfusion where Zika is circulating

US Food and Drug Administration recommends that blood should no longer be collected from regions where Zika virus is circulating

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Testing tubes full of blood are seen at the American Red Cross Charles Drew Donation Center in Washington February 16, 2016.

The US Food and Drug Administration recommended on Tuesday that blood transfusions should stop where the Zika virus is circulating.

Also, the agency said blood banks can continue collecting and preparing platelets and plasma if an FDA-approved pathogen-reduction technology is used. Current pathogen-reduction technology is not approved to treat whole red blood, which is used for most transfusions.

Zika has spread rapidly through Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil worst-hit, followed by Colombia.

An estimated 15 companies or groups have begun to work on a vaccine for the virus, the spread of which has been declared an international health emergency, WHO's deputy director for health systems and innovation Marie-Paule Kienysaid Feb,12.

"We believe the new recommendations will help reduce the risk of collecting blood and blood components from donors who may be infected with the Zika virus," Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's biologics division, said in a statement.

Colombia is proved to be the most affected country by Zika virus after Brazil. So far, more than  25,000  people have been infected while more than 300 of the infected are pregnant women.

Moreover, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa are the risky areas for spreading the virus, also they expect some localized outbreaks may occur in the southeastern United States later this year.

Although there is some significant evidences that the virus can be transmitted in the blood and caused ilness, much remains still unknown including dengue and chikungunya viruses, which are carried by the same mosquito as the Zika virus, but don't cause illnesses.

Scientists know Zika usually causes mild, flu-like symptoms often lasting for up to one week, the virus has also been linked to thousands of suspected birth defects. But it is still unclear whether the virus actually causes microcephaly.

The time in order to reach the clinical consequences possible could take six to 12 months to complete.

"No-one feels comfortable waiting for the results of those studies to be concluded," said Dr. Michael Busch, director of the Blood Systems Research Institute.

"There's a lot of work going on to understand the value and need for blood screening."

The WHO called for an international health emergency on Feb.1.

TRTWorld and agencies