Local blood banks take precaution against Zika virus

Coutesy of Development Diaries

Local blood banks, like OneBlood, are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

Chief Medical Officer of OneBlood Dr. Rita Reik said, “We are asking any donors who have traveled to Zika risk areas that they delay donations for at least 28 days.”

OneBlood has allotted an effective wait time as a protective measure before donating.

“The 28 days assures that if a donor does have the virus circulating in their blood, they have plenty of time to resolve the infection and get rid of the circulating virus, so they’re no longer infectious when they donate,” Reik said.

Due to the reoccurrence of several infectious viruses OneBlood has implemented its safety standard in place for over a year now.

Fourteen cases of the Zika virus have been reported in Florida and one in Georgia, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. There are several counties on alert for the virus.

Hillsborough County reported two cases of the virus last week.

After Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a public health emergency on Wednesday for the virus, North Florida residents began to express concern.

The CDC does not believe that the North Florida area is at risk, but the Florida Department of Health is closely monitoring the spread of the virus while more cases are surfacing.

Currently, the virus can be contracted through mosquito bites, sexual contact and blood transfusions.

Candice King, a Hillsborough County native, said that she had recently donated blood at one of the local blood banks here in Tallahassee since cases of the Zika virus have been found in Florida.

“The nurse answered all of my questions about the virus. After giving blood she advised me of the necessary steps to prevent contracting the virus. She even told me that my blood sample would be thoroughly tested to ensure it is not infected,” King said.

Local doctors have advised their patients to take precaution when planning to travel, and getting the necessary vaccines to prevent contracting the virus.

“If you are planning to travel the places such as Central or South America etc., where the virus has been reported, and are pregnant or planning to become pregnant you may want to postpone your trip.” Dr. Mipani, Tallahassee medical doctor, said.

Since the recent images of babies with birth defects and other severe effects of the virus have circulated and discussed within the media, the Zika virus has been the subject of topic in many doctor’s offices said King.

“I also intern at my local hospital at home, and they have been receiving lots of questions about the Zika virus from women expecting. Fortunately, pamphlets have been created for those frequently asked questions,” King said.

The CDC suggests that people wear long sleeves, pants and insect repellent to protect from being bitten. Those who have contracted the virus will experience fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis for several days.

Local doctors are advising patients to contact the Red Cross immediately if they are experiencing any symptoms related to the Zika virus after donating blood within 14 days.