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Is the South Texas blood supply being tested for Zika?

Wendy Rigby
Texas Public Radio

Yes. In part. In July 2016, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Centerin San Antonio became one of only a few centers in the country approved by the FDA to conduct the testing. The Zika virus test is new technology being developed by Roche. Since it is investigational, blood donors have to sign a consent form to allow a sample of their blood to be sent to a lab in Atlanta for testing.

People who do not consent to having their blood tested for Zika will still be allowed to donate. However, those donations are set aside in a group of untested blood. If hospitals have high-risk patients (i.e., pregnant women) who need blood, they will order units from the Zika-tested supply.

If South Texas experiences active transmission of Zika cases, like in Florida, the blood center will not collect blood from anyone who does not consent to testing.

If a donor tests positive for Zika, they will be informed in a letter and will be instructed to consult with their primary healthcare provider.

University Hospital also runs a blood bank. That center is not involved in the investigational testing, so right now, none of the blood collected there is screened for Zika. If Zika shows up in locally transmitted cases, the blood collected at UH will have to be sent to STBTC for testing.

Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.