In the next four weeks, South Carolina and 10 other states should begin screening blood donations for the Zika virus, following a U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendation.
Georgia has also been instructed to begin screening “as soon as feasible,” along with Alabama, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and Texas, due to either their number of travel-associated cases or their proximity to Florida — where 14 people have acquired the virus from local mosquitoes.
The Red Cross announced Friday it was conducting blood donor tests for Zika in five southeastern states and would be expanding testing to four more states in the next two weeks. It has also stopped collecting blood in South Florida and is not accepting donations from those who have traveled to Miami-Dade County within the past month.
Zika typically stays in blood for one to two weeks, but it has been detected up to two months after a person experiences symptoms of the virus, according to the FDA.
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South Carolina confirmed 43 cases of Zika related to travel as of Friday, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. None of those patients reside in Beaufort or Jasper counties, the agency reports.
Georgia had 65 travel-related cases as of Thursday, including three in Chatham County, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
The FDA recommended blood collections cease in Florida and the three U.S. territories with active Zika transmission until blood establishments begin screening donations or using pathogen reduction technology.
In all other states, the FDA recommends blood establishments begin screening donations within 12 weeks.
“There is still much uncertainty regarding the nature and extent of Zika virus transmission,” said Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center of Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a news release. “At this time, the recommendation for testing the entire blood supply will help ensure that safe blood is available for all individuals who might need transfusion.”
The FDA first recommended in February that only areas with active Zika transmission screen blood donations. It wasn’t until July that the first cases of local Zika transmission were reported in the continental U.S., in the Miami area.