Carter BloodCare is closely monitoring the fluid developments in the state of Florida, concerning the Zika virus. Our staff receives daily updates on newly announced Zika-risk areas. Added to the list now, are Broward and Miami-Dade counties in Florida. This is part of the pre-donation screening process.We are working with a nationally connected network of community blood centers so that we remain apprised as changes become necessary.
Blood centers rely on volunteer blood donors to give frequently as their health allows, especially during the summer months. This is how we maintain a safe and sufficient blood supply for local hospitals and their patients. Blood donors can be assured it is safe to give with Carter BloodCare. At this time there is no need to change our collection practices beyond the additional travel screening. If changes are required, we will make them according to regulations.
Blood donor eligibility related to the Zika virus risk was updated in February when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new guidance for blood centers to help manage Zika-related risk. The FDA makes decisions, in part, from the knowledge gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that indicate how much risk there might be to the blood supply as this virus spreads.
Because the information about Zika virus is an evolving public health concern, it is important that you read the donor education materials carefully when they are given to you prior to the blood donation screening process.
Signs and Symptoms:
As a reminder, only one in five people infected with Zika will show any symptoms, which are often mild and disappear within a few days to a week. Those symptoms are: fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes / conjunctivitis, muscle pain or headache. Most at risk are pregnant women or women who could become pregnant. Babies born to women infected with Zika virus could have microcephaly (small heads and/or brains), a defect which has been linked to Zika virus exposure in the womb. For details on pregnancy and Zika, or for more information on travel warnings, please visit www.cdc.gov.
Risk Factors for Contracting Zika Virus Include:
- There are many areas defined as at-risk for Zika virus transmission. The list is updated daily by the CDC. Carter BloodCare’s staff will ask if you have traveled to any of the areas in the last four weeks. They will use information from the CDC web site.
- If you did travel to any of the areas, you will be deferred from donating until four weeks after your departure date from the area.
- If you traveled to an at-risk Zika area and became ill with signs or symptoms suggestive of Zika (two or more from those listed above) within two weeks of departure, wait four weeks after your symptoms resolve before donating.
2. Sexual Contact
- If you are a female and had sexual contact with a male who lived in or traveled to an at-risk Zika area within three months of his departure date from the area, please wait four weeks after the sexual contact before donating.
- If you are a female and had sexual contact with a male who had been diagnosed with Zika infection within three months prior to the sexual contact, please wait four weeks after the sexual contact before donating.
In addition, we are asking all who donate blood to contact us at 877.351.3600 if you fall ill within 14 days after your donation. After hours and on weekends, please call 817.343.2569. The post donation instruction card also has these phone numbers on it.
Zika is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, but there is documentation of sexual transmission from infected men to their partners. At this point, in the United States, the virus has not been spread by mosquitoes but through people believed to have been infected while traveling elsewhere. The only individuals who have been diagnosed are those who have traveled to the countries where the virus is widespread or those who have had sexual contact with travelers of those regions.
There is no risk of infection if you give blood. Additionally, routine processes in place help safeguard the blood supply for patients. All donors must feel well when giving blood; a mini-physical including temperature, blood pressure and pulse is conducted every time you donate blood. The new FDA guidelines include additional questions about travel.
The areas where the virus is most widespread are updated daily. Our staff utilizes information from the detailed list of countries that are considered at-risk for Zika virus exposure, available on the Centers for Disease Control website.
It is our goal to keep the community blood supply safe for hospital patients. With the arrival of Zika virus in Texas, all of us at Carter BloodCare are working diligently to ensure those who receive a transfusion can be confident of its quality and safety.