• By Deborah Balzer

Zika Virus Impacts Blood Donations

February 5, 2016

a man donating blood Zika virus continues to make headlines as health officials alert the public about potential risks of spreading the virus through blood donations. This week, the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) issued protective measures to blood collection facilities, including the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center, requesting self-deferral from donation until 28 days after travel to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central or South America. The goal of the self-deferral is to help thwart a potential threat to blood recipients to make sure the nation's blood supply remains safe. The virus is dangerous for pregnant women because it has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly.

Watch Dr. Justin Kreuter discuss blood donations

Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center Medical Director Dr. Justin Kreuter says, "Mayo Clinic is following the recommendations of the American Association of Blood Banks to get the word out to blood donors that if you are returning from South America or Mexico, you should not donate blood until you've been back in the United States for 28 days."

Currently, there is no commercial blood donor screening test in the United States to identify Zika virus. Dr. Kreuter says, "That's why we need to ask our donors to not come in and donate based on their history since there is no test for the virus. If physicians are concerned about their patients, they can send samples to the CDC or certain state labs or testing."

Dr. Kreuter says concern over Zika virus will have an impact on blood donations, and he reminds everyone that donating blood is critical to saving lives. He says it's important that eligible donors continue to donate blood to help keep the country's blood supply healthy.

Every year, Mayo Clinic transfuses 60,000 units of blood, which is used for lifesaving surgeries and treatments. Donating only takes about an hour of your time.

The process includes these five steps:

  • Register
  • Fill out electronic health forms
  • Have your vital signs checked
  • Donate the blood
  • Have a snack to boost your blood sugar.

It doesn’t matter what blood type you are. Every type is needed.

See earlier posts on Zika virus:

Transmission of Zika Virus and Dangers of Mosquitoes  (2/4/2016)

WHO Says Microcephaly-Zika Virus Link International Emergency   (2/1/2016)

Mayo Clinic Minute: Zika Virus   (1/21/2016)

Journalists: Broadcast quality video including sound bites with Dr. Krueter and b-roll of the Mayo Clinic Blood Center can be found in the downloads.

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