Zika Virus

Zika virus (pronounced “ZEE-ka” and abbreviated “ZIKV”) 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 those 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.

Though there were no proven cases of ZIKV transmission through blood transfusion in the U.S., the FDA designated the virus as a “relevant transfusion-transmitted infection” (RTTI) in 2016. As a result, all blood donors from 2016-21 were tested for Zika virus using an FDA-approved nucleic acid test, most commonly one that tested multiple donors at the same time (mini-pool NAT), unless the product was pathogen-reduced.

In 2021, after analyzing data showing no positive blood donations since 2018, the FDA removed the “RTTI” designation from ZIKV (see their rationale here). Most US blood centers stopped testing blood donors for ZIKV by mid-2021.

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