Sarasota blood bank uses technology to flush Zika out of platelets

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) - Multiple people in South Florida have been infected with the Zika virus through local mosquito bites and in response, local blood banks are taking measures to protect their blood supply.

The Sun Coast Blood Center, located in Sarasota, has implemented the INTERCEPT Blood System, technology that uses a molecule to flush pathogens, like the Zika virus, out of blood platelets.

According to Jayne Giroux, the Director of Community Development for the Sun Coast Blood Center, Sun Coast also implemented a Zika screening test for their blood supply on Monday.

These tests reduce the risk of a variety of pathogens from infecting patients through blood transfusions.

Rod Millington has donated blood countless times over the past couple of years, once every three months to be exact.

"You feel good about doing it, about helping your community and giving it to people who may need it," said Millington.

However, on Wednesday, his donation was time was a bit different.  After one pint of his blood was collected on Wednesday afternoon, it will go through a set of new screening tests for a variety of pathogens including the Zika virus.

"We are always concerned about the latest pathogens. Fortunately for us, we have pathogen inactivation for our platelets which has been proven effective to render the Zika virus inactive," said Scott Bush, the CEO of Sun Coast Blood Center.

On the outside, the INTERCEPT blood system looks a little bit like an office printer but it does so much more.

It reduces the risk of tainted blood making its way into patients through transfusions.

According to Bush, Sun Coast was the first blood center in the United States to implement pathogen reduction technology.

"Our mission was always to provide the safest and highest quality blood products to the community," said Bush.

A bad blood product containing the Zika virus could have disastrous effects on those who get it, especially pregnant women or people with cancer.

As fears over the Zika virus continue to spread, Sun Coast is banking on these safeguards to keep their blood bank safe.


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