An experimental test for screening blood donations in case of Zika contamination has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The move comes during a time when Puerto Rico had to stop local donations and opt for importing about six thousand red blood units from the United States.
In this way, all other blood banks in the country will hopefully be able to avoid similar situations. As the director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research of the F.D.A., Dr. Peter Marks, has stated, the administration will work with Puerto Rico’s blood centers in order to implement investigational tests. A product of Roche Molecular Systems, the test is estimated to be ready next week.
The test has been developed in a relatively short time, if we compare it with the one for the West Nile virus which took about a year before reaching blood banks. Its purpose is to avoid or postpone concerning situations in the context of the Zika outbreak.
Zika is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and has been extending from South America to the Caribbean. The pathogen, which can also be transmitted sexually, provokes brain damage to infants who are born to mothers with Zika but has also been linked to symptoms of temporary paralysis.
Unfortunately, blood banks in affected areas have no way of screening potential donors, and this is where the F.D.A. test will come in handy. Blood Systems has banks across 24 states and did hope to import blood from either the ones in the Northern Plains or the ones in the Rocky Mountains, in case donations in states like Louisiana or Texas would have to be suspended.
Furthermore, OneBlood also planned to change collections from areas that are affected to safe ones in order to maintain the blood supply’s safety, according to chief medical officer Dr. Rita Reik. The F.D.A. Is currently working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to find out where exactly the virus is transmitted directly.
The new blood test is to help prevent the closure of blood banks in Louisiana, Texas or Florida like it happened in Puerto Rico. The situation is seriously affecting accident victims, transplant recipients and cancer patients, since each day about 36,000 red blood cells units are required nationwide. Each year, over 9.5 million people donate blood that is screened for the West Nile virus, H.I.V. and hepatitis C and B viruses. The Zika virus will soon join this list.
Image Source: Digital Trends
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