Protecting the blood supply from Zika

- It's here. The first known non-travel-related Zika infections in the country were confirmed in Florida this week.

To prevent the risk of spreading the virus, OneBlood, Florida's largest blood donation center, announced it will begin screening blood donations made in all of its clinics.

OneBlood says the added safety measure won't slow down the donation process, but it could mean fewer eligible donors at a time of year when the need for donations is at its peak.

"In the summertime donors just aren't here. They are on vacation. They aren't at school. They're traveling. Yet the blood supply needs continue every day," said OneBlood spokesman Dan Eberts.

This summer the pool of donors has dwindled even further. Months ago, OneBlood began screening out potential donors who'd recently traveled to countries with known Zika infections.

On Friday the Florida Department of Health confirmed four locally-transmitted cases of Zika. That prompted the FDA to ask blood banks in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to begin testing their supplies.

OneBlood decided to take it a step further.

"Safety of the blood supply is always our top priority and we have been working on our Zika virus prevention for more than a year now," said OneBlood's Susan Forbes.

The Orlando-based non-profit is now testing donations made at any of its locations across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. OneBlood says its donation centers will continue to operate business as usual.

If a Zika infection is detected, they will quarantine the unit of blood and notify the donor, the Florida Department of Health, the FDA and the CDC.

Right now, Eberts says there is an urgent need for O-positive and O-negative blood types, as well as platelets. To find out more about how to donate, visit https://www.oneblood.org/

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