WASHINGTON — In an effort to fight the spread of the Zika virus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday said all blood donations should be screened for the virus.
The FDA had originally only recommended blood be screened in areas with active Zika transmission but updated its guidance due to what it says are the, “potential serious health consequences of Zika virus infection to pregnant women and children born to women exposed to Zika virus during pregnancy.”
The revised guidance recommends all states and U.S. territories screen individual units of donated blood with a blood screening test authorized for use by the FDA under an investigational new drug application or a licensed test.
Learn More: What the CDC knows about Zika
Zika virus is transmitted primarily by the Aedes mosquito and can also be spread by sexual contact. Although four out of five people infected with Zika virus never develop symptoms, when symptoms do occur they may include fever, arthralgia (joint pain), maculopapular rash (red area with small bumps), and conjunctivitis (red, irritated eyes). In addition, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects and is associated with other adverse pregnancy outcomes.
As of August 24, there were more than 11,500 confirmed cases of Zika virus in the U.S. states and territories — 2,517 in U.S. states and Washington D.C. and 9,011 in U.S. territories.