CBC to begin testing for Zika

DAYTON — Community Blood Center is taking necessary steps to comply with new recommendations issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to protect the blood supply against the Zika virus.

The FDA today recommended universal testing of all donated whole blood and blood components for the Zika virus in the U.S. and its territories. CBC applied in June for use of the investigational new drug (IND) authorized by the FDA as a blood screening test for Zika. At the time states with active Zika transmission held the highest priority for receiving the test and beginning screening.

The FDA is now recommending immediate testing in states and territories with one or more reported locally acquired mosquito-borne cases of Zika. Eleven southern and western states must begin testing as soon as feasible, but no later than four weeks (Sept. 23). All other states, including Ohio and Indiana, must begin testing as soon as feasible, but no later than 12 weeks (Nov. 18).

CBC will continue the screening methods in place to defer potential donors who have traveled to Zika endemic areas in the prior four weeks. The list of active Zika transmission areas was recently expanded to include two Florida counties.

CBC is deferring potential donors for 28 days who have traveled to Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County, as well as the Caribbean, Mexico and Central or South America.

CBC asks all donors to be aware that travel restrictions impact the available blood supply by further limiting the number of people able to donate. CBC encourages eligible donors to schedule appointments and donate when able.

“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.”

Testing of donated blood is already underway in Florida and Puerto Rico, as well as in other areas, and it has shown to be beneficial in identifying donations infected with Zika virus. Expanded testing will continue to reduce the risk for transmission of Zika virus through the U.S. blood supply and will be in effect until the risk of transfusion transmission of Zika virus is reduced.