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Blood donation centers following precautionary guidelines due to outbreak of Zika virus

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Officials at Texas blood donation centers have created stricter policies for donating in response to worldwide outbreaks of the Zika virus.

The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas officials decided to implement donation policies that reach beyond federal recommendations in order to protect the blood supply from Zika virus contamination.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently recommends that donor education material should include risk factors, signs and symptoms of Zika to allow donors to self-defer for four weeks, said Cindy Rowe, public relations manager of The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas.

The recommendation is consistent with the American Associations of Blood Banks’ suggestion, Rowe said.

“However, we are taking it one step further,” Rowe said. “We are making the deferral a formal part of the donor history procedure, rather than relying on donors to self-defer for the new travel restrictions, this is for everyone’s safety.”

Currently, FDA guidelines require females to wait four weeks after having sexual contact with a male who has travelled to an infected area within the last three months before donating.

“The Blood Center has decided to require females to defer for three months after having sexual contact with a male who travelled to a virus infected area within the last three months,” Rowe said. “We’re implementing measures to makes sure we protect the blood supply from getting contaminated.”

Rowe said the TBTCCT is actively monitoring the virus and working diligently to stay updated with the rapidly evolving situation. She suggested donating blood before travelling to areas impacted by Zika.

Officials of the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, owned by BioBridge Global, have implemented regulations in regards to Zika contamination.

STBTC provides blood, plasma, platelets, and other blood components to several hospitals throughout Texas. STBTC representatives host blood drives on campus, typically in the LBJ Student Center.

BioBridge Global officials are following all regulatory measures recommended by the FDA concerning the Zika virus and blood donations, said Julie Vera, corporate communications and public affairs strategist for BioBridge.

According to the FDA’s Feb. 16 news release, officials have been working rapidly to take important steps to respond to the virus outbreak and are issuing guidance for immediate implementation to better protect the blood supply.

Due to recent outbreaks of the virus, FDA officials are planning to issue guidance concerning the donation of human cells, tissues, and tissue and cellular products.