The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is arranging and funding shipments of blood products from the continental United States to Puerto Rico. The mainland blood is being provided to ensure an adequate supply of safe blood for island residents as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico experiences active mosquito-borne Zika transmission.
The risk of Zika virus transmission through blood products is considered likely based on the most current scientific evidence and what is currently being reported about transfusion-associated infection occurring outside of the United States. Blood products shipped to Puerto Rico will be collected from areas in the continental United States without active transmission of Zika virus so that blood products used in Puerto Rico can meet all of the same high safety standards as those used elsewhere in the United States.
The shipments are being provided to Puerto Rico through the American Red Cross, the Blood Centers of America, and America’s Blood Centers. Existing blood collection centers in Puerto Rico will then supply that imported blood to transfusion providers.
“Availability of safe blood products for the residents of Puerto Rico is a major priority for HHS,” said Karen B. DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., HHS acting assistant secretary for health. “We are arranging the importation of blood products from areas unaffected by local Zika transmission to ensure the safety of Puerto Rico’s blood supply."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that whole blood and blood components for transfusion be obtained from areas of the United States without active transmission of Zika virus until a blood donor screening test or pathogen reduction technology (where applicable) for Zika virus becomes available.