Blood being donated through OneBlood could be tested for the Zika virus starting Aug. 1, according to a press release.
Donors would be asked permission to test for the virus in an extra vial of the donor’s blood, which would be sent to a testing facility in St. Petersburg. Two testing devices can go through 3,000 samples per day and receive results within 12 to 24 hours. Hospitals partnering with OneBlood can request Zika-screened products, according to the release.
Manatee County saw its first travel-related case of Zika confirmed July 15.
That’s no cause for alarm, said OneBlood Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rita Reik .
“It’s not unusual to bring in viruses from other countries,” she said. “Having one in Manatee County wouldn’t be at all unusual.”
Manatee has two OneBlood donation centers. If a confirmed case of Zika originates stateside, OneBlood will stop collecting in the county where it occurred, Reik said.
Travel-related or sexually transmitted Zika cases aren’t a concern at the moment.
As of now, OneBlood hasn’t stopped collecting donations from any Florida county. A pending nontravel case in Miami thatding could possibly cause the blood bank to stop taking donations and start importing blood from unaffected counties.
Reik said some of OneBlood’s larger system hospital partners had requested Zika-screened blood, but not a majority.
Blake Medical Center is the only hospital in the area to receive blood from OneBlood.
Vernon DeSear, vice president of Manatee Healthcare System, said Manatee Memorial Hospital, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Sarasota Memorial Hospital all receive blood from Suncoast Blood Bank.
“We’re keeping up with the current stats,” he said, adding those hospitals haven’t yet seen any Zika-related incidents.
“As of now we have not started screening, but that could change,” said Jayne Giroux, director of community development for Suncoast Blood Bank.
Suncoast will start screening for the virus only when a case originates in one of the areas Suncoast serves, including Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Arcadia and Venice.