Planning to donate blood? Not so fast

Posted at 7:32 AM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 09:04:35-05
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still figuring out how the Zika virus spreads. They do know it can be passed through infected blood, which is why Wisconsin blood banks are taking precautions. 
Anyone planning to donate blood and who has visited a Zika virus affected region, like Brazil or any other tropical region, is being asked to wait 28 days. That's enough time for the virus to pass through the blood.

Doctor Jerome Gottschall with the BloodCenter of Wisconsin wants to make sure that blood donations are kept as pure as possible.

“We do not know a lot about it," Gottschall said. "We do not know a lot about whether it can be transmitted through blood. There are two cases that I've been investigated in Brazil related to blood transfusion."

There is no test for the Zika virus at blood centers, which is why it is crucial for a person to self-report. Still the risk is considered to be very low that there have been any infected donors. 

What blood banks are certain about is the 28 day waiting period after visiting a high risk country. They do not want anyone who has traveled abroad to be discouraged from giving blood after being turned away once. 

“They need to continue to come back even though they're waiting on additional 28 days," Gottschall said.

According to the CDC, only one in five people who get the virus will develop fever like systems.

Cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. So far there are no confirmed cases in Wisconsin.