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United Blood Services to increase screening for Zika in donations

(AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

PHOENIX — A Valley blood bank is stepping up its efforts to guard against the spread of the Zika virus.

It was several weeks ago that the Food and Drug Administration recommended that all blood banks in the country screen for Zika after a batch donated in Miami tested positive for the virus.

In Arizona, United Blood Services said it’s doing its part.

“Right now, United Blood Services is testing the blood of everybody that has traveled to a Zika impacted area,” said United Blood Services spokeswoman Sue Thew. “That’s an automatic test that is done.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services said that 25 cases of the Zika virus have been reported in Arizona, and all of them are travel-related.

“Everybody who has traveled to a Zika impacted area (and makes a blood donation) has had their blood tested before it is released to a hospital,” she said.

UBS provides blood to about 64 hospitals in Arizona.

But now, United Blood Services is expanding its Zika efforts. Soon it will test all blood donations for Zika, even though none of the Zika cases in Arizona have been travel related.

“We’re in the process of ramping up our testing, so that by the middle of the month, we will be able to test all donated blood for people, whether or not they’ve traveled to a virus impacted area,” Thew said.

Thew said that United Blood Services is doing everything it can to make sure that Arizona’s blood supply is safe.

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