FDA Calls for Zika Virus Testing in All Donated Blood

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a revised guidance recommending universal testing of donated blood and blood components for Zika virus in the United States.

“There is still much uncertainty regarding the nature and extent of Zika virus transmission,” said Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a press release. “At this time, the recommendation for testing the entire blood supply will help ensure that safe blood is available for all individuals who might need transfusion.”

Previously, the FDA ordered blood banks in Miami-Dade County and Broward County – two of the most densely populated counties – to halt blood collections as it investigates potential cases of Zika transmission that may not be related to travel to countries with active outbreaks. The agency said that testing in Florida and Puerto Rico has shown to be beneficial in identifying donations infected with Zika virus.

The FDA has authorized the emergency use of several investigational Zika screening tests, as well as a pathogen inactivation technology that kills the virus in blood platelets and plasma.

Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration press release, August 26, 2016; Reuters news release, July 29, 2016.