Blood bank/pest control service launch Bite Back campaign against Zika virus

The Zika virus is having an impact on our local blood supply. The Blood Center of Central Texas has had to turn away more than 100 donors because of where they or a loved one have traveled. Wednesday--the blood bank announced a partnership with ABC Home and Commercial Services to urge mosquito bite prevention.

ABC Home and Commercial Services Residential Pest Operation Manager Brian Kelly points out a favorite spot for mosquitos in a North Austin yard.

"They will be down underneath under these areas. They love to harbor in there and this is where they love to spend their time,” Kelly said referring to shrubs.

He made a house call to perform a maintenance check on a mosquito misting system. Kelly says his requests for service are up 20 percent.

"We have a lot of people concerned about the Zika virus,” he said. "They just don't want to take any chances."

On Wednesday morning, company CEO Bobby Jenkins and Blood Center of Central Texas CEO Marshall Cothran held a press conference with a message of everyone must make an effort to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

"You've got to do something,” said Jenkins.

The two have teamed up for a campaign called Bite Back.

The spread of the Zika virus is having an impact on the blood supply in countries with active transmission and here at home. The Blood Center of Central Texas must turn away donors who have traveled to certain areas and those who have had sexual contact with them. So far, they've had to reject 130 people.

"That may not seem like a lot. It hasn't put us in a crisis situation yet, but I will tell you we are struggling to keep up with that 200 donor a day daily demand. Just take 3 or 4 daily off of that and you're starting to struggle,” said Cothran.

There is no active transmission here, but, 33 have been diagnosed with Zika in Texas. On Tuesday, Williamson County health officials announced a person had tested positive there. Two cases have been confirmed in Travis County.

"This is the kind of mosquito that is local. This is in your back yard,” said Jenkins.

Should our area become an active transmission area, our blood supply could decrease further.

"I can tell you the worst case has already occurred outside the continental U.S. in Puerto Rico. That is an active transmission zone. They had to bring in all of their blood from non-transmission continental United States. They had to stop accepting donors,” said Cothran.

The FDA is allowing the use of an investigational test to screen donors, but it is in the development stage. Conthran says it is unknown if we would have access to it.

There are many unknowns moving forward, but for Cothran one thing remains certain, "A healthy blood supply depends on a healthy community."

Jenkins says these mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are not just biting during dusk and dawn. They bite all day. He says keep a repellant on you and your children and if you're outside wear pants and long sleeves.

Visit TexasZika.org for the most current Zika news in the state.

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