Screening blood donors to prevent Zika Virus Disease (1/2/2016)
1 February 2016 (Monday)
Screening blood donors to prevent Zika Virus Disease
The spokesperson of Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service (BTS) today (1 Feburary) announced that with effect from tomorrow (2 February), anyone who has resided in or visited any of those countries which are affected by Zika Virus Disease (including Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, U.S. Virgin Island and Venezuela) will be screened under the new screening guidelines and deferred for blood donation in BTS donor centres at least 28 days from the date he/she departed from the affected country. The incubation period of Zika virus disease is typically between three and 12 days. BTS will closely follow the latest information on the virus outbreak as announced by World Health Organization so as to revise the blood donation screening policies.
The spokesperson pointed out that the screening decision had been made as a precautionary measure by the Hospital Authority (BTS) Expert Panel on Blood and Blood Products Safety, which had been endorsed by the Blood Transfusion Service Governing Committee. In fact, donors are currently temporarily deferred for blood donation if they have travelled to part of the countries or territories as mentioned in the past 12 months for prevention of Malaria which was also an infection transmitted by mosquitoes.
“The current blood donor screening policy includes enquiring about the travel history of prospective donor in the past 12 months. If a person has visited a malaria high-risk region in the last 12 months, or visited the West Nile Virus prevalent regions in the North America in the last 28 days, blood donation deferral will apply, the spokesperson stressed that the objective of deferral policy is to ensure blood safety, while blood supply would not be affected.”