The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a new guidance recommending the deferral of individuals from donating blood if they have been to areas with active Zika virus transmission, potentially have been exposed to the virus, or have had a confirmed Zika virus infection.
While there have been no reports to date of Zika virus entering the U.S. blood supply, the risk of blood transmission is considered likely based on the most current scientific evidence of how Zika virus and similar viruses (flaviviruses) are spread and recent reports of transfusion-associated infection outside of the U.S. Furthermore, about 4 out of 5 of those infected with Zika virus do not become symptomatic. For these reasons, the FDA is recommending that blood establishments defer blood donations from individuals in accordance with the new guidance.
In areas without active Zika virus transmission, the FDA recommends that donors at risk for Zika virus infection be deferred for four weeks. Individuals considered to be at risk include: those who have had fever, joint pain, rash or conjunctivitis during the past four weeks, those who have had sexual contact with a person who has traveled to, or resided in, an area with active Zika virus transmission during the prior three months, and those who have traveled to areas with active transmission of Zika virus during the past four weeks.
In areas with active Zika virus transmission, the FDA recommends that Whole Blood and blood components for transfusion be obtained from areas of the U.S. without active transmission. Blood establishments may continue collecting and preparing platelets and plasma if an FDA-approved, pathogen-reduction device is used. The guidance also recommends blood establishments update donor education materials with information about Zika virus signs and symptoms and ask potentially affected donors to refrain from giving blood.
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Oxitec is applying to release sterile mosquitoes that are programmed to create self destructing progeny. The sterile insect technique has been used over the last 50 years in a number of countries for controlling insects. Normally, these released insects are males. Releasing males is attractive because they aren't the ones that bite. The sterile males compete with wild males for the females.
Oxitec Limited developed a program to control mosquitoes, which is based on the sterile insect technology. This program involves the production of genetically engineered male mosquitoes, known as OX513A Aedes aegypti that possess a fluorescent marker and a conditional lethality characteristic. The goal or releasing these engineered mosquitoes is to reduce the local population of Aedes aegypti.
The genetically engineered Aedes Aegypti were developed to reduce mosquitoes in Florida. The engineered mosquito has not been approved for use until now. The conditional lethality is this mosquito larva requires tetracycline to live. Oxitec Limited plans to rear millions of male mosquitoes each week. The mosquitoes would be released and breed with wild mosquitoes. In the lab, when the larvae of the mosquito are given tetracycline it serves as a remedy for the self-limiting gene. When in the wild, without tetracycline, the genetically engineered progeny of OX513A (Aedes aegypti) will not reach adulthood.
OX513A has been approved for import and contained testing in Brazil, Cayman Islands, France, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, USA and Vietnam. Field trials are currently also underway in Brazil.
Thomas Masterson MD, editor, MedicalNewsService.com