After Sexual Transmission, Brazil Reports Zika Virus Infection Through Blood Transfusions

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Feb 05, 2016 05:30 AM EST
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Two cases have been confirmed on Thursday as the blood came from donors that have been infected with the Zika virus.

According to the health department of Campinas, a man who suffered from gunshot wounds received multiple blood transfusions in April 2015. Health officials say that the donated blood belonged to people who were infected with the mosquito-borne virus.

Marcelo Addas Carvalho, director of the Blood Center at the Sao Paulo State University of Campinas said the patient would not have been infected via mosquito bites as the patient was in intensive care for three months, reports Reuters. The man died from his grave injuries but not from the Zika virus infection.

The second person who donated blood in May last year showed symptoms and tested positive for the virus, but the recipient of the blood did not develop any symptoms.

"The two cases can be considered transmission of the virus through blood transfusion, with greater certainty in the first because we did genetic sequencing comparing the virus in the donor and to the virus in the recipient," Carvalho told the outlet.

While it is known that Zika is usually transmitted through mosquito bites, this new discovery adds a whole new problem to containing the outbreak. The Scientific American notes that some countries have enforced stricter policies for blood donation. People who have been infected with the virus cannot donate blood for 30 days until the 30 days have passed until they have recovered.

The American Red Cross stated that the risk of getting the virus through blood donations is "low" in the United States, donors should still exercise caution. Just a few days ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that the first known case of the virus being acquired in the country was through sexual transmission, CNN reports.

The Zika virus is connected to the sharp increase of babies being born with microcephaly or small heads in Brazil as their mothers may have been bitten by the mosquito carrier while pregnant. On Feb. 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the even an International Public Health Emergency as it is considered a "public health threat" around the world.

"A coordinated international response is needed to improve surveillance, the detection of infections, congenital malformations, and neurological complications, to intensify the control of mosquito populations, and to expedite the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines to protect people at risk, especially during pregnancy," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan declared in a release.

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