Recently, the Office of the Florida Department of Health State Surgeon General announced that it is conducting an epidemiological investigation into a number of non-travel related cases of Zika virus in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. These may be the first cases of local Zika virus transmission by mosquitoes in the continental United States. Miami-Dade County and Broward Counties are adjacent counties in South Florida.
"In consideration of the possibility of local transmission of the Zika virus, and as a prudent measure to help assure the safety of blood and blood products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting that all blood establishments in Miami-Dade County and Broward County cease collecting blood immediately until the blood establishments implement testing of each individual unit of blood collected in the two counties with an available investigational donor screening test for Zika virus RNA or until the blood establishments implement the use of an approved or investigational pathogen inactivation technology," says Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Additionally, the FDA recommends that adjacent and nearby counties implement the precautions above to help maintain the safety of the blood supply as soon as possible.
"The FDA is also working closely with companies that are making blood screening tests available under an Investigational New Drug application (IND) to ensure that these companies are ready to expand testing as needed. Blood collection establishments in the rest of the United States may also choose now or in the future to participate in testing under IND, even in the absence of local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus," says Marks. "The FDA continues to support those regions of the United States at risk of local mosquito-borne Zika transmission that have already started screening their blood supply for Zika virus and encourages other areas at high risk to begin doing so."
The FDA will continue to monitor this potential outbreak in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Florida State public health authorities, and will provide updates as additional information becomes available.
"In addition to protecting the nation’s blood supply, the FDA is prioritizing the development of diagnostic tests that may be useful for identifying infection with the virus, helping to facilitate the development and evaluation of investigational vaccines and therapeutics, and reviewing technology that may help suppress populations of the mosquitoes that can spread the virus," Marks says.