As Zika virus spreads, blood donations become a concern

The Zika virus is spreading at an alarming rate. Health officials estimate: three to four million people will be infected during the next year.

There have been 31 cases in the U.S. including some here in Texas.

“There is ongoing transmission in Central and South America, and some of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Dr. Philip Huang, M.D., said.

The virus has a mild effect on adults but can lead to serious birth defects for unborn children.

“The concern is what's being seen in Brazil with the cases of the pregnant women and babies born with the small heads or microcephaly,” Huang said.

Health officials believe the cases in the United States came from those who traveled to any of the affected countries, since the virus is mosquito-borne.

“If I have a daughter who were pregnant I would certainly recommend delaying any travel to that area,” Huang said.

Mothers here in Austin, like Melanie Erb are taking the proper precautions. Erb plans to become pregnant soon.

“No I do not have any plans to travel to South America. I definitely would be frightened, I would be concerned. Birth defects are certainly something to worry about,” Melanie Erb, parent, said.

Not everyone is worried.

“I don't know if I'd be too worried necessarily about that but i know there are a lot of other tropical diseases

Blood supply in Texas is also a major concern. The American Red Cross is aware and released a statement saying:

The Red Cross is currently evaluating whether to ask donors to self-defer for 28 days following their return to the U.S. if they traveled to areas with ongoing Zika outbreaks. The Red Cross and other blood collection agencies are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health departments to track Zika and to update donor eligibility criteria as necessary.

The American Red Cross says the chances of them receiving contaminated blood in the continental U.S are low but they are taking these precautions.

The type of mosquito that carries this is in Texas but the ones here are not vastly affected like South America.  It's important to wear repellent and cover up as the warmer months approach us.


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