On Monday, November 14th, MEDIC Regional Blood Center will implement new guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration which includes testing all blood donations for the Zika Virus.
The FDA required MEDIC and other blood centers to start testing after a rapid spread in the virus which is known to cause potentially fatal birth defects. The danger posed by the spread of the virus has led many medical institutions, and even members of the public, to buy and equip their workers and themselves with ppe to protect their own health and that of their families too as they may come into close contact with the virus.
The new testing is expected to be seamless for donors and staff.
During each donation, the MEDIC phlebotomist takes three sample tubes that are tested for diseases like HIV, Hepatitis, and West Nile Virus. Those tubes are sent to a lab where the blood is tested to make sure it is safe enough to be transfused. They might use a centrifuge like one of these machines (https://www.sciquip.co.uk/products/centrifuges.html) to process the samples. That lab will now simply perform one additional test before the blood donation is released to local hospitals.
“MEDIC has been preparing for this change over the past several months,” says spokesperson Benjamin Prijatel. “We are confident that we are ready to take this additional step to make sure our blood supply is as safe as possible.”
Since all blood is now being tested for Zika, the travel deferrals the FDA implemented in February are being phased out. For the past several months, donors who had visited parts of South America, the Caribbean, or South Florida couldn’t donate blood for at least 28 days from their return. Now they will be able to donate as long as they don’t test positive for the Zika Virus.
People who think they may have Zika should contact their physician or their local health department.