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Zika and its Impact on Blood Donation

The Zika virus is having a serious effect on blood donation here in Southern California. Although the virus is not prevalent in this area, LifeStream is taking every precaution to maintain the safety of the blood supply and to prevent the spread of the virus through blood transfusion. Recent changes include adding deferrals for travel to areas considered “at risk” for Zika virus. A listing of “at risk” or endemic areas can be found at


  1. What is the Zika virus? How is it spread?
    Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (A. aegypti and A. albopictus). These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters. They can also bite at night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
    The virus is spread through mosquito bites, sexual contact and could be transmitted through blood transfusion.
    Currently, there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
  2. Symptoms of Zika
    Most people infected with Zika virus won’t have any symptoms at all. Those who do will usually only have mild symptoms such as fever, rash, muscle or joint pain, eye pain or redness, and headache.
  3. Endemic areas
    (areas where the virus is transmitted from one person to another by mosquito)
    Zika is prevalent mostly in Central and South American countries and most recently in south Florida. For a full list of affected areas please visit the CDC website:


Effective September 21, 2016, all donors will be tested for Zika virus. Though we will no longer be deferring for travel, we would still like for you to tell us if you were ever diagnosed with Zika or if a sexual partner was diagnosed with Zika.

  1. Can I get Zika by donating blood?
    No, you cannot get Zika by donating blood. All materials are new, sterile and only used once for your donation.
  2. Can Zika be transmitted to a patient through blood donation?
    It appears so, yes. Though there has not been a confirmed case of transmission of the virus through blood donation, there is a strong possibility since most people do not have any symptoms. Again, this is why LifeStream has taken a very proactive stance to protect the blood supply.

For more information about blood donation, click here.


To further our commitment to the safety of the blood supply LifeStream is participating in Zika virus medical research to evaluate a new test for Zika detection. Parental consent to participate in the study and blood donation is required for 15-, 16- and 17-year-old donors. Click here (En Espanol) to download the Young Donor Parental Consent Form.

To improve blood safety we may use your donation history information and a sample of your blood, in a confidential manner. To see the full Zika Virus Research Information document and for the Experimental Research Subject’s Bill of Rights, click here.

Zika Research Q&A

  1. Why is LifeStream participating in the Zika virus research?
    The safety of the blood supply is of utmost importance to us. This research will help to evaluate a new blood test to detect the Zika virus in donated blood and prevent patient exposure.
  2. Do I have to do anything special to participate?
    Participation in the study does not require any additional time or procedure outside of your normal blood donation process.
  3. What benefit do I receive for participating?
    This study is entirely voluntary so you will not be compensated for your participation. However, the study will help us protect the integrity of the blood supply and continue to save lives.
  4. Will my results and information be kept confidential if they are used for research purposes?
    Samples used by researchers will have your identifying information removed. Only authorized blood center personnel can link samples to your identifying information. Strict procedures are observed at all blood collection facilities to maintain your confidentiality. Identifying information will not be revealed to anyone unless required by law.
  5. Can I still donate blood if I don’t want to participate in the study?
    Unfortunately, no. All donors must be tested for Zika and as a result, LifeStream must have consent to participate in the study from every donor.
  6. I wasn’t able to donate. Can I participate in the research in any other way?
    Thank you for your willingness to assist, however, donors are only able to participate through blood donation.
  7. What is paralytic nervous system damage?
    Although very rare, Zika can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). GBS is an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, and, sometimes, paralytic nervous system damage or paralysis. Paralysis is the loss of the ability to move or feel in part or most of the body.
  8. What other institutions are going to receive the research information?
    Public health authorities, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Hologic, Inc. who is developing the test.
  9. What is a false positive test result?
    A false positive test is rare but possible. It simply means the test results came back positive when in fact there was no infection. A false positive test result may lead to disclosure of personally identifiable information to public health authorities, as required by law.
    If you have additional questions about Zika research, please contact our Medical Surveillance department at 909.386.6836.