Government taking steps to protect blood supply from Zika contamination

FRESNO, Calif. -- The federal government is taking steps to keep the nation's blood supply from being tainted with the Zika Virus. Friday morning, the FDA advised all blood banks to start screening donations.

RELATED: Hurricanes may influence spread of Zika Virus

At places like the Central California Blood Center in Fresno, the blood supply is low. There is a need for all types and given the risk of Zika, Dean Eller said every drop needs to be protected.
"Every donation, every single donation has to be tested individually."

Soon the lab will be able to screen blood for the mosquito-borne virus. It will add time and money to the collection process-- about $5to $10 per test. Eller said it's necessary, but also an FDA requirement that needs to met by September 23rd.

RELATED: CDC advises pregnant women to avoid travel to Miami due to Zika

"This just puts out another layer of complexity that really has kind of set us back a little bit, but we'll get through it."

The only other line of defense is a series of questions.

"Have you traveled anywhere in the United States considered a Zika area," asked Ginger Blackwell, registered nurse.

RELATED: Berkeley baby born with Zika-related microcephaly

"No, no, just California," responded the blood donor.

The symptoms of infection aren't always apparent. Those who have been to a Zika infested areas-- like Mexico or two counties in Florida-- can't give blood within 30 days of the visit.

"We want to keep our blood supply safe for everybody and we're taking every precaution we can on our end," said Blackwell.

There is some worry the extra precautions could keep blood donation chairs empty and the blood supply low. So far, the blood center has only had to turn one person away.

With Labor Day weekend coming up, there is a huge need for blood. If you're not sure whether you can donate, you can always call the closest blood bank to find out.

Click here for full coverage on the Zika Virus.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.