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Published on March 18, 2016

Cape Cod Healthcare Blood Center Zika Advisory

Cape Cod Healthcare’s Blood Donor Services is fully compliant and up to date with federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for the Zika virus. In accordance with FDA guidelines, CCHC Blood Donor Services has taken the following measures:

  • Added a question on the blood donor questionnaire asking if you have traveled to any of the countries listed by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as Zika-active sites.
  • Added a question to the questionnaire asking if you have had sexual contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with Zika virus infection or traveled to a Zika-affected country within the last three months.
  • Hands out pre- and post-donation information about Zika virus to everyone who gives blood at a CCHC-sponsored blood drive or at the Blood Donor Center at Cape Cod Hospital.

Anyone who answers yes to the Zika virus-related questions is asked to wait 28 days before returning to donate blood. The areas affected by Zika virus are Mexico, any Caribbean nation, and Central and South America.

Anyone who has donated blood recently and developed symptoms of Zika virus exposure, is asked to immediately contact the Blood Center so their blood can be quarantined.

The Zika virus outbreak has caused concern in more than two dozen countries where it is spreading, because of its danger to pregnant women. The virus can infect the fetus and appears to increase the likelihood of microcephaly, (abnormal smallness of the head) which is associated with incomplete brain development in the first trimester.

The most common symptoms of the Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (also known as “pink eye”), muscle pain and headaches.

“Because there is no blood test to detect Zika virus, like there is for HIV, viral hepatitis, West Nile Virus and the parasite that causes malaria, self-reporting is absolutely critical,” said Constance Patten, director of the CCHC Blood Center. The CCHC Blood Center supplies blood to Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital.

In addition to monitoring Zika updates from the FDA and CDC, Patten receives daily “Smart Briefs” from the American Association of Blood Banks, which have the latest information about the disease and what measures blood donor centers should take to ensure the safety of their blood supply.

The CDC cautions that more research is needed to better understand the link between Zika and microcephaly. But, it is recommending special precautions for both pregnant women and those trying to become pregnant:

  • Consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika transmission is ongoing.
  • If you do travel, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during your trip.

Media Inquiries

All media inquiries should be directed to Robin Lord, Director of Communications.

Phone: 508-862-7891

Cell: 774-236-9602