Local officials in Brazil have announced that two people have been infected with the Zika virus through blood transfusions. This is the first of such report in the South American country.
Recall that yesterday officials in Dallas, Texas reported that a person had contracted the virus through having sex with a partner who recently visited a Zika-infected area.
Cármino Antonio de Souza, health secretary of Campinas, a city northwest of São Paulo, said both transfusions occurred during the first four months of 2015 but that the transmission wasn’t confirmed until recently, according to the Wall Street Journal, per the Washington Post. One patient was a liver-transplant recipient, while the other a gunshot victim.
Federal health ministry in Brazil said it was carrying out an investigation into the two cases, but did not make it clear they were due to blood transfusions as against to mosquito bites, which is the most common cause of the virus.
There has been growing concerns among health officials around the world about Zika in the blood supply; with the Red Cross advising people who recently returned from areas where outbreak has occurred to wait 21 days before donating blood. Though, there is no confirmed scientific case of transmission through blood supply; it cannot be ruled out at the moment especially as it has been shown to occur with viruses in the same family.
Susan Stramer, the vice president of scientific affairs for the Red Cross, said that it has started asking donors to immediately bring to the notice of the organization if they subsequently develop symptoms consistent with the Zika virus within 14 days of donating blood “so that we can quarantine the product.”
Also, officials of the Food and Drug Administration said earlier in the week that they are considering whether travellers who have been to places where the virus has been reported should suspend blood donation.
However, the American Association of Blood Banks, the professional standards group, said its 28-day self-deferral recommendation also applies to other tropical viruses, including Chikungunya and dengue. It added that this should only result in only minor decreases—about 2.25 percent—in overall donations to the blood supply.
Countries around the world have started issuing travel warnings to their citizens in order to curb the spread. Also, officials in El Salvador have advised women planning for pregnancy to consider putting such plans on hold for at least six months.
On Monday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international health emergency. The body, which was heavily criticised over its handling of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014, is leaving nothing to chance in its fight against the outbreak of the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Zika virus typically stays in the blood for only a couple of days, with the majority of people clearing it within about a week.
So far about 30 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the United States, which has continued to spread in the Americas.