Zika Virus - Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Zika Virus

Zika Virus is a virus that is spread through the bite of mosquitoes that are found in certain countries.  Currently, outbreaks of Zika are occurring in South and Central America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Asia and in Florida. Infection with Zika Virus can cause a mild illness that typically lasts between 2 and 7 days.

Symptoms include: mild fever, muscle or joint pains, headache, itchy rash and conjunctivitis (sore eye).   The time between being bitten by a mosquito and developing symptoms is usually 3 to 12 days. However, 80% of people who become infected with the Zika Virus have no symptoms.  Infection with the virus can cause a serious birth condition called microcephaly, where a baby is born with an unusually small head. Zika Virus is spread when an infected mosquito bites a person. It can also be spread from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, from an infected person to their sexual partner during sex and by blood transfusions.   

As Zika Virus can be transmitted by blood transfusions, we require the following information from all donors:Have you been to a country that is at risk of Zika Virus? If you have, you cannot donate for 28 days after you left the country.

Were you diagnosed with Zika Virus Infection? If you were, you cannot donate for 6 months after you are fully recovered.

Were you unwell when you were in a country that is at risk of Zika Virus or since you returned home? If you had symptoms of Zika Virus Infection during your visit to an at-risk country or since you returned home, you cannot donate for 6 months after you are fully recovered, even if you did not seek medical advice.

 Donors who had sex in the last 4 weekswith a MALE who has or had Zika Virus Infection or symptoms of Zika Virus Infection in the last three months will not be able to donate for 28 days after the most recent sexual contact NB: if the sexual contact is on-going you will not be able to donate for up to 4 months (3 months from the time your sexual partner fully recovered plus 28 days

Donors who had sex in the last 4 weeks with a FEMALE who has or had Zika Virus Infection or symptoms of Zika Virus Infection in the last 8 weeks will not be able to donate for 28 days after the most recent sexual contact NB: if the sexual contact is on-going you will be deferred for up to 12weeks (8 weeks from the time your sexual partner fully recovered plus 28 days.

If any of these questions apply to you, you must not donate.  This is a precaution to protect the blood supply in case the virus is in your blood even though you feel well.