The Zika outbreak has escalated to a high-level concern in the Americas since the first cases were confirmed in May 2015 by the Pan American Health Organization. Pregnant women have been the center of conversation, since Zika is linked to microcephaly and neurological damage to the fetus. But, the center of concern expanded this month when officials stated people infected with the virus could transmit Zika through bodily fluids, including blood, urine and sexual fluids. For this reason, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a recommendation to blood banks to defer donors who have been to areas with “active Zika virus transmission.”
Beyond the relevant concern by Obstetricians and Gynecologists for their patients who have traveled to countries, such as Brazil, surgical teams could be affected if this recommendation by the FDA is not heeded, because it could result in tainted transfusions for their patients. Other donations, like for human cells and tissues, have not been addressed, but the FDA stated it plans to release an updated guideline on these as well.
- May 2015: The Pan American Health Organization recognized the first Zika cases in Brazil.
- Jan. 22, 2016: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Operating Center responded to the outbreak after reports of Zika-linked birth defects and Guillain-Barré syndrome were made.
- Feb. 1, 2016: The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to the neurological disorders and microcephaly associated with Zika.
- Feb. 2, 2016: Experts suspect the first Zika virus transmission in the United States was through sex, not through a mosquito bite.
- Feb. 8, 2016: The CDC’s EOC names Zika as a level 1 threat, which is the highest threat level.
- Feb. 16, 2016: The FDA recommends blood banks reject donors who have been to areas with ‘active Zika virus transmission’.
- Feb. 17, 2016: The WHO requests $56 million to fund research on Zika vaccines, diagnostic tools and virus transmission.