Florida Sperm Donations May Contain the Zika Virus
Florida Sperm Donations May Contain the Zika Virus
Feds warn of Zika threat to sperm donations in 3 Florida counties
15 March, 2017, 00:56
The three Florida counties on alert for this possible transmission through sperm donations are Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. The virus can also result in congenital Zika syndrome, a pattern of conditions in the infant that comprises brain abnormalities, hearing loss, and eye and limb defects.
At a news briefing, Dr Peter W Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Centre for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said, "When semen is donated, it can be stored frozen for significant periods of time, and that doesn't necessarily inactivate the Zika virus". "Testing for tissue donors, including semen donors, is not now available; however, tissue donors are asked travel history questions, and if they have traveled to or live in an area of active Zika virus transmission they would be determined ineligible under current FDA guidance".
The CDC said that resident travel between the three counties, and the difficulty of pinpointing where a person may have contracted Zika from a mosquito, makes it very likely that the virus spread well beyond the limited zones in Miami-Dade identified by Florida health officials a year ago. Researchers highlighted the potential risk to women who have become pregnant since June 15 whose partners live in the tri-county area of South Florida, as well as women who have used donor semen from residents of the tri-county area to become pregnant since that date.
Sperm donations from men in three Florida counties are being discouraged due to the slight risk of Zika infection, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Contracting Zika during pregnancy isn known to increase the risk of birth defects in newborns. Among all cases in the state, 278 pregnant women displayed laboratory evidence of Zika.
Women from the Florida areas who have been pregnant since June 15 are urged to talk to their doctors about the potential risk. That agency regulates sperm donations and previously warned sperm banks not to accept donors who have been diagnosed with Zika or been to an area where Zika is common in the past six months, the AP reported. One of the reasons for this, according to the FDA, is that while Zika is easy to test for in blood samples, it's harder to identify in semen.
The last mosquito Zika transmission in Florida was in December, but officials believe mosquitoes will start spreading the virus again this summer.
Of the 279 locally acquired Zika cases recorded in Florida for 2016, at least 259 were in Miami-Dade - more than any other county.
Ongoing probe also found that residents of the three counties frequently travel between the areas and possibly may not realize they could be infected.
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