Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is taking measures to help safeguard the blood supply as the Zika Virus spreads.
The Blood Center is now presenting printed materials about Zika and asking all presenting donors who have traveled to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America within 28 days to self-defer. In the near future, donors who have traveled to those areas will be deferred as part of the required screening process. The deferral does NOT apply to those donating source plasma at the Bill T. Teague Neighborhood Donor Center.
“There currently is no test to detect Zika in the blood supply,” said The Blood Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Susan Rossmann, “so we are asking people who have visited countries affected by Zika not to donate for 28 days after returning. There currently aren’t any published reports of Zika being transmitted via blood transfusion, but for the safety of our patients, we don’t want to take any chances.”
Currently, all donors are asked to notify The Blood Center if they experience symptoms of two or more of the following after donating: fever of 100-degrees or higher, muscle and/or joint aches or weakness, headache, eye pain and rash.
Initially, Zika was thought to be a mild illness causing fever, rash, aches and pains, and general malaise. However, there is strong circumstantial evidence that Zika infections in pregnant women could result in the birth defect microcephaly, a condition in which the head is much smaller than normal because the brain fails to develop properly. It will take at least several months before case-control studies determine if Zika is the cause of the microcephaly increase.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has more information on Zika and the commonly asked questions about the virus.
The World Health Organization has released a Zika fact sheet.
The Houston Chronicle has five reasons not to panic about Zika in Texas.