Zika virus detected in donated blood

PINELLAS, Fla. — Officials confirm the Zika virus has been found in a blood donation that was made in Florida. A OneBlood spokesperson says the blood was tested at a lab facility in St. Petersburg in August.

The announcement was made as testing for the virus continues ramping up. Right now, OneBlood is one of the few companies in the state conducting testing. The company conducts its testing in the St. Petersburg lab.

“We get the samples in in the evening; most of those are tested and the results are reported back,” OneBlood Vice President Phillip Williamson said.

This is the only positive Florida test result thus far for donated blood.

“The safety that is inherent in the blood supply right now is at its peak. It’s higher than it’s ever been,” Williamson said.

The machines can test up to 3,000 samples a day. Results are ready within hours.

OneBlood said they prepared for Zika a year ago. “We had anticipated a possible Zika outbreak of varying magnitude for quite a while and we had the wheels in process for bringing a test up,” said Dr. Rita Reik, OneBlood chief medical officer.

Fears abut the Zika virus are still high among pregnant women. “It’s really concerning since you know we have mosquitoes here pretty much year-round,” Lindsay Mitchell said.

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County says the department started administering free Zika testing for pregnant moms in August. So far they’ve tested 174 pregnant women.

Earlier this week, the Center for Disease Control issued new travel guidelines for expectant mothers, advising them to avoid Miami-Dade County. New Zika cases have been confirmed in Miami-Dade.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 4,016 cases of Zika in the 50 states as of Wednesday, including 72 in North Carolina. Most of those cases are in returning travelers.The only place that Zika is being transmitted locally in the states is Florida, where 137 local cases were reported.

Doctors are even seeing more men get blood tests these days. “If a spouse of a pregnant woman develops symptoms, flu like fever, body ache, that sort of thing, they should go to doctor and get tested,” said Dr. Eric Buete, with American Family Care, Urgent Care.

The OneBlood representative could not provide specifics on where or who the positive Zika donation came from.