Hoxworth now testing for Zika in blood supply

Hoxworth now testing for Zika in blood supply (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Specialists in the Tri-State were among the first in the nation to implement new testing of the blood supply for the Zika virus.

Hoxworth Blood Center has a critical shortage. It's had a drop in donors in the past few weeks and now needs especially type O donors. One thing that may help build up this supply is people will no longer will be turned away if they have traveled to an area such as Florida, where lots of people in Cincinnati go for vacations. Instead, the blood of those who donate can now be tested for the Zika virus.

Cara Nicolas, a Hoxworth donor, said, “I am, I have been a donor since I was 17. I donated for the first time in high school, and I’ve been a donor ever since.”

Those who donate blood said they do so for a lot of reasons, “Well aside from the cookies, you just really get the knowledge that you're making a tangible difference in someone’s life. You can be giving someone minutes or years more time,” said one donor.

Adding those minutes and years gets tougher as officials have new concerns that rule out donors, such as the Zika virus. For months those who traveled to an area with high risk for Zika infection were ruled out. Now all that is changed.

Gregg Boothe of Hoxworth Blood Centers said, “Anyone who has traveled to a Zika endemic area such as Florida can now come in and not worry about having to be deferred to for that travel.” Boothe said testing for the Zika virus of the blood supply in his centers and across the country was underway, “That means we can remove the need to ask questions about travel in regards to deferring folks for Zika exposure, or possible Zika exposure.”

As part of on-going research to see how prevalent the virus might be in the blood supply, many donation centers were also part of a national trial. That means if someone does appear to have the Zika virus they will be contacted and follow care implemented to reduce the odds the virus will spread.

If people can donate call the number 513-451-0910. The blood you donate does stay in the Tri-State area for those who need it. To donate blood people need to be healthy, at least 17- years-old, and weigh at least 110 pounds.

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