Zika testing begins for blood donations in Florida

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 18:54:29-04

With rising concerns over the potential spread of the Zika virus, south Florida's largest blood supplier is now screening all donations for Zika. This comes just two days after federal regulators asked for collections from OneBlood to stop immediately.

OneBlood representatives say their new Zika-screening procedure was developed in record time - less than 12 weeks. With blood supplies at low levels, they need blood and want to keep it as safe as possible.

"This test goes a long way towards eliminating, or at least greatly preventing, the likelihood of transmission of Zika through blood transfusion," said Dr. German Leparc of OneBlood.

The Community Blood Center of Collier County is now asking blood donors more questions about their recent travel. Laura Rosen, community relations manager for the center, issued this statement to Fox 4:

"If an individual has lived in or traveled to Miami-Dade or Broward counties in the previous four weeks, they will be temporarily deferred."

Health experts say that if a person with Zika donated blood, it's possible that someone receiving the blood through a transfusion could get the virus.

"The safety that's inherent in the blood supply right now is at its peak," said Phillip Williamson of OneBlood. "We want to maintain that safety."