Federal health officials are granting use of an experimental blood test to screen blood for Zika virus, an emergency step designed to protect blood supplies.
The action means U.S. territories with active Zika infections, primarily Puerto Rico, will be able to resume collecting and screening their own blood. Earlier this month, the island of 3.5 million barred local donations and began importing blood from the U.S., following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Currently no states have reported local, mosquito-transmitted Zika cases.
However, some experts say some of the problems facing Puerto Rico now may be repeated later this year in Florida, Texas and other Southern states where officials think mosquito-borne outbreaks of Zika may occur.
“In the future, should Zika virus transmission occur in other areas, blood collection establishments will be able to continue to collect blood and use the investigational screening test, minimizing disruption to the blood supply,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of FDA’s center for biologics.
Earlier this month, the CDC and the FDA authorized emergency use of a separate laboratory test to diagnose Zika infection in patients. The test was distributed to a limited number of U.S. and international laboratories.
On Friday, San Diego County health officials announced California’s first case of the virus spread through sexual transmission.
The Zika virus is transmitted mostly through mosquito bites, but a man who has Zika can transmit the virus to his sex partners.
Symptoms may not be apparent in someone who is carrying the Zika virus. If symptoms do develop, they may include fever, rash, joint pain and eye redness.
California has reported 22 travel-associated cases of Zika virus within the last year.
Mosquitoes can carry the Ziki virus similar just as they spread dengue and chikungunya. The insects get infected when they feed on a person who already has the virus. Then, those infected mosquitoes can spread the virus to other people through bites.