FDA recommends ban on blood collections from Zika-affected areas

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that blood no longer be collected from regions where the Zika virus is circulating, and that blood needed for transfusions be obtained from areas of the United States without active transmission.

The agency said blood banks can continue collecting and preparing platelets and plasma if an FDA-approved pathogen-reduction technology is used. Current pathogen-reduction technology is not approved to treat whole red blood.

"Based on the best available evidence, we believe the new recommendations will help reduce the risk of collecting blood and blood components from donors who may be infected with the Zika virus, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's biologics division said in a statement.

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The agency said it is also prioritizing the development of blood screening tests to identify the presence of the virus in the blood, and to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of experimental vaccines and drugs that might be developed.

The FDA formally endorsed recommendations made by the American Association of Blood Banks that donors at risk for Zika virus be deferred from donating blood for four weeks.

Those people include those who have had symptoms suggestive of Zika virus during the previous four weeks, those who have had sexual contact with a person who has traveled to, or resided in, an area with active Zika virus transmission during the prior three months, and those who have traveled to areas with active transmission of Zika during the past four weeks.