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Can the Zika Virus Spread Through Donated Blood?

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The  emerging Zika virus outbreak in the U.S. officially has the attention of the FDA.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a set of guidelines aimed at keeping the virus - believed to cause miscarriages or birth defects when it infects pregnant women - from entering the blood supply.

So far, only 52 cases have been reported in the U.S., with 10 being here in Texas.  And as far as we know, all those cases were transmitted by mosquitoes or sex.

But are we are at risk of getting it from a blood transfusion?

Well, since Zika only sticks around for about a week, folks are being told not to donate blood, until they've waited a nice, safe 28 days after traveling to an affected country, or having sexual contact with someone who did.

Right now, that's pretty much on the honor system. We're depending on a questionnaire and "self-deferral," according to folks at Carter BloodCare and the Red Cross.  But both say they're working to update their policies following the FDA's new recommendations.

Meanwhile, the FDA says they're working on a way to screen blood for Zika, and researching ways to vaccinate against it.

They're also looking into technology that would stop mosquitoes from breeding, to prevent Zika and other diseases from spreading.  Whether it fights Zika or not, surely reducing the mosquito population would be a win for us all.

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