Glossary

Zika Virus

Zika virus (pronounced “ZEE-ka”) is a mosquito-transmitted virus that underwent explosive spread in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean in 2015 and 2016. The virus is transmitted by the same mosquito that carries dengue and chikungunya (Aedes species, especially A. aegypti). Zika differs from the other two viruses in several ways, including an association with cases of microcephaly in babies born to Zika-infected mothers, and reports of sexual transmission from infected males. There have been two reported cases of transfusion transmission in the lay press, but blood transmission is not yet proven in the scientific literature.

In the U.S., all blood donors are tested for Zika virus using an FDA-approved nucleic acid test, most commonly one that tests multiple donors at the same time (mini-pool NAT), unless the product has been pathogen-reduced. See the FDA’s most recent guidance on prevention of Zika virus transmission for more details.

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