Published: Wed, March 15, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Sperm Donations In Florida May Contain Zika Virus

Sperm Donations In Florida May Contain Zika Virus

One of the hardest hit areas in the US, several counties in the state of Florida, were declared free of the virus in December, and the Florida Public Health Department reported that it hasn't had a case of local transmission since.

Zika is mainly spread by mosquito bites. It has also been reported that there is another 32 probable cases of Zika Virus in the state.

The U.S. had begun to prepare itself for an increase in cases of Zika throughout the upcoming months. In addition, the areas of increased risk has been expanded from Miami-Dade County to include both Palm Beach and Broward Counties.

The guidance had previously applied to Miami-Dade County, the only place in Florida where there's evidence the virus was spread by mosquitoes. Though the exposure locations are unclear for some of the patients who acquired their infections locally, CDC officials said that while Broward and Palm Beach counties haven't been considered active local transmission areas, they are areas at increased risk.

Sperm donations that hail from three different Florida counties may possibly contain the Zika virus, said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC).

Denise Jamieson, MD, incident commander with the CDC's Zika emergency response and chief of the women's health and fertility branch in the CDC's reproductive health division, told reporters that new information found in the cases highlights the challenges of identifying the exposure source. The problem is, although researchers are developing a way to screen sperm samples for the virus, the test isn't ready yet.

There are 12 sperm donor banks in the three south Florida counties, CDC officials said. If Zika infects a fetus, scientists believe it causes microcephaly-where the baby is born with a small head, signifying abnormal brain development.

Women from the Florida areas who have been pregnant since June 15 are urged to talk to their doctors about the potential risk.

"It does not necessarily inactivate Zika, so it could be stored in tissue banks, used subsequently and people should be made aware", explained Dr. Peter W. Marks of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at a media briefing.

The now readying itself for the likelihood of more Zika cases in the coming months.

Most cases of Zika infection in the United States are travel related and as people continue to travel to tropical areas where the Aedes mosquito is more common, the United States will continue to have cases of Zika virus throughout the country.

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