Stating August 1, One Blood donation centers will start screening blood donations for the Zika virus.
"We've been working with the Florida Department of Health and the CDC and the FDA for many months now," said Dr. Rita Reik, Chief Medical Officer of One Blood.
Zika screening will be done with the consent of the donor. An extra tube of blood will be drawn and sent to a lab for testing. The results will be available within 24 hours. If the blood is negative for Zika, it will go into a special inventory for high risk patients including those who are pregnant.
"Certainly for hospitals, it's a huge step forward because in the event that we did suddenly have active Zika transmitted in South Florida, they would have a method for sharing their at risk populations which is primarily pregnant women and small infants," added Dr. Reik.
With the life-changing birth defects the virus can case, some are wondering what took so long to get this testing up and running?
"You have to go through an awful lot of paperwork and approvals to be allowed to even use the test," said Dr. Reik.
One Blood anticipates the screened blood will be distributed to hospitals by August 4th. Dr. Reik says the organization realized there was a need for this testing once Zika was impacting the continental U.S.
"The thing that's concerning is if you get a local case, which means that your mosquitoes locally may be carrying the virus," she added.
Right now anyone who has traveled to an area at risk for Zika has to wait four weeks till they can donate blood.