CORRECTED-UPDATE 4-FDA recommends Zika testing for all blood donated in U.S.
(corrects title of Dr. Ziman in 27th paragraph to director of transfusion medicine instead of transmission medicine)
By Julie Steenhuysen and Letitia Stein
CHICAGO/TAMPA, Fla. Aug 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended on Friday that all blood donated in the United States and its territories be tested for Zika virus, as it moves to prevent transmission of the virus through the blood supply.
The agency said its decision to expand blood screening in the United States was based on concerns about more cases of local transmission in Florida, the growing number of travel-related infections and concerns that Zika-tainted blood could unwittingly be given to a pregnant woman, putting her unborn baby at risk of severe birth defects.
"The transfusion of a pregnant woman with blood infected with the Zika virus could have terrible consequences," Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said during a conference call with reporters.
The current Zika outbreak was first detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. In Brazil, Zika has been linked to more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly, and U.S. officials expect as many as 270 cases in Puerto Rico, where local transmission of the virus is widespread.
"Over 8,000 travel associated and over 2,000 non-travel associated cases of Zika have been reported in the United States and U.S. territories," Marks told reporters.
Given frequency of travel of individuals within the United States, he said there was a risk that people without symptoms of Zika could donate blood and transmit the virus.
Testing of donated blood is underway in Florida, Puerto Rico, as well as in other areas of the United States, and has been proven helpful in finding infected donations. Continuación...