An analysis of donated blood in the U.S. shows something reassuring: The Zika virus is still very rare in the States.
The Zika virus has been a global health threat for quite some time now, but up until recently, U.S. residents could take comfort in one thing: It seemed as though the virus could be avoided as long as we stayed away from parts of the world with active transmission.
But then some news came along that scared us: We learned that the virus was spreading throughout parts of Florida, and many of us wondered if that meant a spread within the rest of the country was inevitable. This was an incredibly dangerous prospect for pregnant women, who run the risk of the virus causing microcephaly in their babies.
That's why this news is so positive. According to the New York Times, medical companies Hologic Inc. and Grifols have been scanning donated blood for traces of the Zika virus—and they found that despite the spread in Florida, the virus still remains "exceedingly rare" in the United States.
With that being said, we will have to take this news with a grain of salt: Those who have visited active Zika areas have been advised against blood donation, and that might be skewing these findings.
According to reports, blood from about 348,000 U.S. individuals had been screened by mid-October. Only 14 samples tested positive for Zika. Back in August, the FDA issued guidance saying donated blood should be looked at for traces of the virus—it's a complicated, expensive move, but one that will hopefully help researchers better understand how the infection spreads. And for now, we'll take this news as small but significant reassurance.