(Orlando, Florida – April 6, 2016) OneBlood stands ready to face the Zika virus if and when the mosquito-borne disease emerges in Florida or the surrounding Southeast states it serves.
OneBlood anticipates the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granting the blood center approval to use a new investigational test to screen blood donations for the Zika virus. Approval is expected in the coming months and likely sooner if there is an active outbreak of the virus in OneBlood’s service area.
“We are not waiting for the virus to appear, we are putting proactive plans in place now,” said Dr. Rita Reik, Chief Medical Officer for OneBlood. “Once the FDA approves OneBlood to implement the Zika test we will begin testing a certain percentage of our inventory and have blood that has tested negative for the Zika virus available for hospitals to use for their high risk patients, such as pregnant women, women of child-bearing age and immune-compromised patients,” said Reik.
OneBlood remains in direct communication with the Florida Department of Health and will be notified as soon as possible if and when a suspected case of local Zika transmission is identified.
Additional proactive steps OneBlood implemented earlier this year to protect the local blood supply from the Zika virus remain in effect including enacting additional donor deferral guidelines, updating the donor history questionnaire to include Zika specific questions and issuing educational materials to donors.
Last month blood centers in Puerto Rico were unable to collect blood after the FDA ordered the blood centers in that area to cease collections until the Zika test was made available.
In an effort to ensure blood was still available for the people of Puerto Rico during this unprecedented time, OneBlood stepped in to help and has been shipping blood products to the island on a regular basis.
In recent days, the FDA approved Puerto Rico to begin using the new Zika test and the blood centers on the island have been able to resume blood collections after being shut down for more than a month.
OneBlood is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) community asset responsible for providing safe, available and affordable blood to more than 200 hospital partners and their patients throughout most of Florida, parts of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. The OneBlood name is a constant reminder of the collective power we share to save another person’s life.