Bethesda, Md. – The Zika virus poses a growing public health threat that directly impacts the safety and availability of the blood supply. The risk of virus transmission from an infected individual through blood is greater without appropriate precautions used during the donor screening process. AABB members are leading the way in protecting the U.S. blood supply by following AABB’s recent Association Bulletin (AB) and putting proactive donation guidelines in place.
“The public should be aware that AABB members are the most dedicated and committed, ‘front-line’ folks who stand ready to protect the U.S. blood supply in times of national emergency. Our members understand that a rapid response to a critical situation — which has the potential to threaten our blood supply — is predicated on how fast they can mobilize and change complex internal operating procedures to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted diseases,” said Miriam A. Markowitz, AABB CEO. “The safety and sustainability of the blood supply in the U.S. is in the care of our blood suppliers, who are licensed by the FDA and voluntarily accredited by AABB. At this time, there is no commercial screening test or vaccine available for Zika. Therefore, the best way to protect the U.S. blood supply is to screen blood donors using the donor history questionnaire and asking about recent travel to areas with active transmission of Zika,” she added.
AABB surveyed its members following the release of AABB AB #16-03 regarding Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses on Feb. 1, 2016 to assess the impact of implementation and readiness of AABB members in the absence of other guidance. The survey also assessed the effectiveness of communication to members via association bulletin and requested general feedback on the bulletin recommendations.
AABB is pleased to announce that all respondents to the survey have implemented or intend to implement a deferral policy for travel to Zika virus endemic areas along with other measures.
AABB will continue to monitor, discuss, educate and inform its members of protocols, updated regulatory guidance and interpretation, as the anticipated incidence of Zika infections begins to increase with warmer weather, in order to ensure the safety of donors and patients.
AABB is an international, not-for-profit association representing individuals and institutions involved in transfusion medicine, cellular therapies and patient blood management. The association is committed to improving health by developing and delivering standards, accreditation and educational programs that focus on optimizing patient and donor care and safety. AABB membership consists of nearly 1,500 institutions and 7,500 individuals, including physicians, nurses, scientists, researchers, administrators, medical technologists and other health care providers. Members are located in more than 80 countries. For more information, visit www.aabb.org.