Zika Virus and the Blood Supply: What Do We Know?

Alexandra Jimenez, Beth H. Shaz, Evan M. Bloch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Zika virus (ZIKV), a mosquito-borne Flavivirus and emerging infectious disease, is the focus of an international public health emergency after its rapid spread through the Americas and the Caribbean. Although most ZIKV infections are subclinical or characterized by mild febrile illness, ZIKV has been implicated in severe complications, most notably microcephaly in babies born to incident infected mothers during pregnancy. As yet, the extent to which ZIKV is transfusion transmissible remains undefined. Nonetheless, a high prevalence of asymptomatic infection during outbreaks, the demonstration of ZIKV in blood donors, and 4 possible cases of transfusion-transmitted ZIKV in Brazil have raised concern for risk to the blood supply. Consequently, a proactive response is underway by blood collection agencies, regulatory bodies, national funding agencies, and industry alike. Mitigation strategies differ between endemic and nonendemic areas. In the continental United States, the American Association of Blood Banks and Food and Drug Administration guidelines recommend travel-based deferral for those returning from affected areas, and nucleic acid testing is being initiated under an investigational new drug application in Puerto Rico and selected areas of the United States. Options are less clear for countries where autochthonous vector–borne transmission is active. The burden of Zika falls in low-resource countries where high cost and technical barriers associated with testing and pathogen reduction pose barriers to implementation. Additional strategies include maintaining selective inventory for high-risk recipients (eg, pregnant women). We review the available data as of July 2016 on ZIKV in relation to the blood supply including risk, mitigation strategies, and barriers to implementation in addition to the research that is needed to address current uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalTransfusion medicine reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Arbovirus
  • Blood safety
  • Blood transfusion
  • Communicable diseases
  • Emerging
  • Transfusion-transmitted virus
  • Zika virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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