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FDA Allows Use of Investigational Zika Test for Blood Donations

But agency still asks those who've possibly been exposed to the virus to forgo giving blood right now

blood sample

THURSDAY, March 31, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental test to check blood donations for the Zika virus has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The decision to allow use of the test in areas with active mosquito-borne transmission of the virus means that collections of whole blood and blood component donations will be able to resume in Puerto Rico, agency officials said.

"The availability of an investigational test to screen donated blood for Zika virus is an important step forward in maintaining the safety of the nation's blood supply, especially for those U.S. territories already experiencing active transmission," Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. "In the future, should Zika virus transmission occur in other areas, blood collection establishments will be able to continue to collect blood and use the investigational screening test, minimizing disruption to the blood supply."

Due to the Zika outbreak, local blood collection in Puerto Rico was suspended earlier this year. On March 7, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said shipments of blood and blood products would be sent from the continental United States to Puerto Rico. The FDA is still recommending that anyone who has traveled recently to an area where the Zika virus is active to defer donating blood.

The blood test is made by New Jersey-based Roche Molecular Systems.

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