Washington, DC - “The American Red Cross is dedicated to providing the safest, most reliable blood products possible to patients in need. We are reviewing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidance released August 26 recommending universal testing of donated blood products in the U.S.

Currently, the Red Cross is conducting blood donor tests for Zika virus under an investigational study in five southeastern states in the U.S. that are believed to be at greatest risk of local mosquito transmission of Zika virus in which our collections occur. Over the next two weeks, we will expand this testing to four additional states in the south central and southwestern U.S.

We continue to work closely with the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AABB, our professional organization, to prepare for the potential spread of Zika virus by defining appropriate mitigation strategies.

The Red Cross does not collect blood in South Florida where non-travel related Zika cases have recently been confirmed. Following the advice of the FDA, on August 1, the Red Cross implemented a donor deferral for those who have traveled to Miami-Dade County during the previous four weeks.

Last March, the Red Cross implemented the FDA guidance to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmission of Zika virus related to travel to active areas. Following the guidance, we added a specific question to our donor health history questionnaire concerning travel to or residence in areas with local Zika virus transmission and we continue to ask donors to self-defer, or postpone their blood donation for four weeks, if they are at risk of Zika virus exposure.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, and that need can only be met through the generosity of volunteer donors. Eligible individuals are encouraged to give blood or platelets.”