Underscoring the threat of Zika virus transmission via the blood supply, the FDA is calling for all states to screen donations, with Florida to do so immediately.
“Test all donations collected in the U.S. and its territories with an investigational individual donor nucleic acid test for [Zika] under an investigational new drug application, or when available, a licensed test, or implement pathogen reduction technology for platelets and plasma,” the FDA stated. “Blood establishments that collect whole blood and blood components in U.S. states and territories with one or more reported locally acquired mosquitoborne cases of [Zika] should implement the recommendations immediately. You should cease blood collection until testing or the use of pathogen reduction technology is implemented, consistent with the recommendations in this guidance.”
That translates to Florida and Puerto Rico, the latter of which has already been screening blood for the virus. However, 11 other states were told to implement blood testing as soon as feasible, and no later than four weeks from the issuance of the guidance.
Because of their proximity to areas with locally acquired mosquitoborne cases of Zika or the number of travel-associated cases, the following states must meet the four-week deadline for blood testing: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, and Texas.
Other U.S. states and territories should follow suit no later than 12 weeks after the guidance issue date of Aug. 26.
Meanwhile, mosquitoborne transmission of Zika was continuing in Florida, which reported 43 “non-travel-related” cases as of Aug. 29. The state had 545 cases related to travel to an area where Zika is spreading. Health officials reported 75 pregnant women in Florida have Zika, which has been linked to birth defects and other adverse outcomes.
Public health officials reported a case of likely mosquitoborne transmission in Pinellas County, which is in the area of St. Petersburg and Tampa. Few details were being released as they investigated the case, saying the exact area will not be reported unless there is more transmission. The department said it was also investigating possible transmission in the Palm Beach area, but still believes ongoing transmission is only taking place in the area of the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County.