Mandatory Zika testing required for all Texas blood banks

Blood banks across Austin are preparing for a change to help ensure that someone's last chance for life is not contaminated with the Zika Virus.

"We will be testing all blood donations for the Zika Virus." Shaina Novotny, of the Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas, said, "The biggest thing with the test is that the safety of the blood supply. The number one priority for our blood center, for the FDA, that's why the guidance is coming out just to make sure if someone needs a transfusion in our community that they know the blood is safe."

The federal mandate, issued on Friday, requires all blood banks in Texas and 10 others states, including Louisiana, Georgia, and California, to implement the testing within a month. The remaining 39 states will have three months to comply however officials said the added tests will not affect donors.

"From a donor experience, it looks exactly the same. You will still come in and donate. We are already doing 14 tests on every single blood donation, so the test doesn't happen on an individual it happens on the blood after the fact," Novotny said.

Officials said because the testing is considered 'investigational' by the FDA, there will be one exception to the guideline for donors 17 years old and younger

"We have a decent number of 17 year old donors, especially in the fall, with school obviously back in session now, we do a lot of mobile drives at high schools so for those 17 year olds (and younger) they're going to have to have parental consent and the students will bring it to the blood drive," Novotny said.

Novotny said consent forms for people under the age of 17 can be found online.

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