WILKES-BARRE -- In an effort to combat Zika from spreading even further, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now recommends that blood donations nationwide be screened for the virus.
With the FDA's new suggestion, both donors and donation centers all across the country will have to go through a few more steps before a nurse can put the needle in your arm.
Officials say it takes more than 2,000 donations of blood every month to meet the needs of patients in our area.
Candy's Place, a charity that helps cancer patients, held the Rainbow of Hope blood drive at its center in Forty Fort on Saturday. Donations in the summer tend to dwindle a little, so officials are happy the community came out to help the cause.
“Summers are traditionally very difficult mainly because high schools are not in session. High schools are one of the top contributors of blood. They literally keep blood on the shelves not only locally but nationally as well,” said Stephen Magdalinski, Geisinger Blood Center.
With the spread of the Zika virus, officials are taking a different approach when it comes to accepting blood donations in hopes of slowing down the virus from spreading more. Before you can donate blood, you must go through a questionnaire to see if you are even eligible to donate.
“Questions that pertain to those countries with a high risk for Zika, those questions have been added,” said Magdalinski.
Sabrina Cooper is a blood donor specialist and says Geisinger has already been testing for people with the Zika virus for several months now. She tells Newswatch 16 people who have visited areas where Zika is prevalent and those who came in contact with Zika patients have to wait before giving blood.
“If you visited an area that has been infected by Zika, such as countries in South America, when you come back we ask that you wait 28 days,” Cooper explained.
Newswatch 16 talked with some people in Wilkes-Barre who say they don't have a problem with turning away people who want to give blood but have traveled to areas where the virus has hit.
“If you think about it, that’s where the disease is coming from. You wouldn't want to potentially infect everyone,” said Brent Smith of Wilkes-Barre.
“You wouldn't want to spread it more and infect more people. Try to keep it to as minimal as possible,” Kevin Nichols of Wilkes-Barre said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says so far there have been no cases of Zika transmission through blood transfusions in the United States.