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Zika Virus May Threaten An Already Low Blood Supply

ZikaCityHall.JPG
Louisa Jonas
/
Texas Public Radio
Mayor Ivy Taylor and other city officials hold a press conference to discuss Zika Virus.

The threat of the Zika virus may be heightened in San Antonio as the mosquito season approaches, due to the city’s proximity to Mexico.

The Zika virus has now been proven to be linked to microcephaly in infants when their pregnant mothers are infected. Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s brain and head are smaller than normal.

Julie Vera, spokeswoman for the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, says the current blood shortage in San Antonio could pose a serious problem if the Zika infection hits the area.

"Now more than ever, if you’ve ever considered donating, now is the time to do it," Vera says. "We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen with Zika transmission this summer. We do know that every summer we have a drop off in our blood supply, so that coupled with the threat of Zika and any other virus that comes our way—it’s a really serious situation that we’re facing."

Although, currently, there are no known cases of people infected with Zika who contracted it in San Antonio from mosquito bites, Zika can also be spread by sexual transmission. Residents are urged to use condoms if their partner may have been infected. Officials also urge people to wear insect repellent and to get rid of standing water and trash where mosquitoes breed.

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has adopted guidelines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The organization is asking the public to postpone blood donations for 28 days after returning from Zika infected areas in South Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South Americas including Mexico.

The center is also taking it a step further and asking potential blood donors to wait the same 28 days if they  have had sexual contact with someone who has traveled to a Zika affected area.