The following statement regarding Zika virus screening may be attributed to Dr. Susan Stramer, vice president of Scientific Affairs at the American Red Cross:
“The American Red Cross is dedicated to providing the safest, most reliable blood products possible to patients in need. We are working to implement the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidance released August 26 recommending universal testing of donated blood and blood products in the U.S.
Currently, the Red Cross is conducting blood donor screening testing for Zika virus under an investigational study in five southeastern states in the U.S. (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina) that are believed to be at greatest risk of local mosquito transmission of Zika virus in which our collections occur. In September, we will expand this testing to five additional states (Arizona, California, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.) The Red Cross does not collect blood in Hawaii, Louisiana or New Mexico. We will continue to work closely with the FDA regarding our timeline for implementing testing in all U.S. states as required by the revised Zika virus guidance.
The Red Cross does not collect blood in South Florida where local cases of Zika virus transmission have been confirmed. All blood donations collected in Florida by the Red Cross (limited to northwestern Florida) are currently tested for Zika virus using the investigational test. Following the advice of the FDA, the Red Cross implemented a donor deferral for those who have traveled to Miami-Dade County during the previous four weeks and will do the same for Palm Beach and other counties that have documented local transmission.
Last March, the Red Cross implemented the FDA guidance to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmission of Zika virus related to travel to active areas. Following the guidance, we added a specific question to our donor health history questionnaire concerning travel to or residence in areas with local Zika virus transmission and we continue to ask donors to self-defer, or postpone their blood donation for four weeks, if they are at risk of Zika virus exposure.
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, and that need can only be met through the generosity of volunteer donors. Eligible individuals are encouraged to give blood or platelets.”