WHO and Canadian Blood Services Are Endangering North America's Blood Supply

"21 Versus 28 Days" Should Be 6 to 9 Months

Figure Zika virus RNA load in samples obtained from infected patients after onset of Zika virus disease, Israel, December 2015–April 2016
Credit: Based on Lustig Y, Mendelson E, Paran N, Melamed S, Schwartz E. Detection of Zika virus RNA in whole blood of imported Zika virus disease cases up to 2 months after symptom onset, Israel, December 2015 to April 2016.

Eurosurveillance states (in their Editorial Policy): Except where otherwise stated, all manuscripts published after 1 January 2016 will be published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-by-4.0) licence.

 
As such, the image above has been modified slightly by Rose Webster (aka RoseWrites) using color and text to highlight pertinent findings in the study: 
 

Our Blood Supply

is Definitely Not Safe

On August 26th, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued revised guidance and recommended the universal testing of donated whole blood and blood components for the Zika virus in the U.S. and its territories.[1] 

Initially, the FDA recommended (February 16th, 2016) "only areas with active Zika virus transmission" screen donated whole blood and blood components for the virus. 

Yet on September 19th, 2016, the American Red Cross VP of scientific affairs, Susan Stramer, advised hospital medical directors via letter[2] how the Red Cross planned to comply (or not comply) with FDA recommendations (which I found out are not legally binding).
 
FDA’s guidance documents do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities.[3] 
 
The gist of Dr. Stramer's letter: Collections in high-risk states would be in compliance by October 3rd but system-wide Zika testing on all other states would not happen until November 14th, 2016.
 
This timeline is disturbing since mosquito season (particularly for the hardier Culex species) has been studied and their "abundance declined markedly from June to August before a second peak in September".[4]
 
In fact, the end of Culex mosquito season is "usually occurring between the end of October and first week of November".[5]

Related: Safe Mosquito Eradication That Works: Using Coffee, Bti, Rubbing Alcohol, and a Cat

Independent researchers from Brazil, Canada, and China have found that Culex are also a vector of the Zika virus.[6] Although this fact (established prior to the 2016 Olympic Games) by Drs. Ayres and others was – and still is – completely ignored by our public health authorities, mainstream media and even within the scientific community.
 
 
Apparently, the Red Cross does not collect blood in Puerto Rico[7] where every month up to 240 prison inmates are moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. for various reasons
 

American Red Cross Exposed

On October 17th, 2016, Bloodworks Northwest made the shortcomings of the American Red Cross publicly known in a press release titled Concerns over Zika virus testing in Pacific Northwest: Bloodworks to fully comply with FDA mandate, while American Red Cross declines.[8]

Despite the FDA’s mandate to use the highly accurate individual testing protocol for Zika, the American Red Cross will use a less sensitive "mini-pool" test in lower risk areas such as the Pacific Northwest. 
 
This testing method can fail to detect up to 25% of Zika-infected blood, placing patients and the public at risk. The Red Cross was also two weeks late meeting the October 3rd deadline for Zika testing in high risk areas.
"Given that the Red Cross collects 40% of the nation’s blood, it is a public health concern that they do not meet the same FDA deadlines and testing protocol as independent, non-profit blood centers like Bloodworks, who together account for the remaining 60%." ~ Dr. James P. AuBuchon, Bloodworks president and CEO
I was unnerved to discover that "since 2003, the FDA imposed more than $47 million in fines on the American Red Cross for failure to comply with the law, FDA regulations, and a consent decree".[9]
Katherine Howard, a phlebotomist with the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, prepares blood bags
Credit: New Jersey National Guard on flickr Photo by Tech. Sgt. Armando Vasquez, NJDMAVA/PA [Public Domain]

More Zika-Tainted Blood in Florida

But I Am Sure Our Entire Blood Supply is Affected

On October 20th, 2016,  more Zika-tainted blood was uncovered in Florida.[10]

Dr. Aileen Marty, a world renowned researcher at Florida International University (FIU), also expressed concerns about the reliability of the Zika tests being used and the possibility of infected blood getting through. 
 
But an FDA spokesperson declined to:
  • Discuss the screening protocols being used by testing labs.
  • Reveal how many labs are – or are not – using the double testing procedure.
  • Inform where the Zika-tainted blood was discovered.
  • Notify when the Zika-tainted blood was found.
 
 

Active Transmission of Zika Virus (All of U.S.)

Undoubtedly Canada is Included; Culex are Everywhere

US CDC map of all countries with active Zika virus transmission in September 2016
Credit: By US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/active-countries.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On Facebook, I Publicly Posted My Concerns

Canadian Blood Services (Sterling and Jodi) Replied

On my Facebook posts[11] (which I made public and also tagged numerous public health and government websites), Sterling wrote: 
"The risk of the Zika virus entering the Canadian blood system is extremely low. We will, nevertheless, continue to monitor the situation. You can learn more here: http://itsinyoutogive.ca/Annual/2016/#patient/zika"
 Jodi wrote: 
"We’re keeping a very close eye on reports of the Zika Virus in the U.S. and take this situation seriously. We’ve determined the risk of Zika Virus entering the Canadian blood system to be extremely low. As we monitor the situation, we are prepared to update our screening criteria should it pose a risk to the Canadian blood supply.

For more information on our response to the Zika Virus, please visit: http://itsinyoutogive.ca/Annual/2016/#patient/zika"
Initially, I couldn't access the information, the page wouldn't scoll down for me (probably a browser issue on my end). But when I did, I was gobsmacked. Here is a screenshot of what caught my eye immediately:
 

How is 21 Days More Reassuring?

Unless You Are Hoping to Infect Our Blood Supply

Responding to the Zika virus (Screenshot of Highlighted Text)
Credit: Canadian Blood Services Webpage Screenshot [Fair Use]

On October 27th, 2016 "Sterling" Responded

To My Post With the Exact Same Message and Link:

Canadian Blood Supply Comments to Reassure Our Blood Supply is Safe
Credit: RoseWrites (Rose Webster's Facebook Page) Public Post Taken Oct. 28th, 2016
Canadian Blood Service Sponsored Ad
Credit: RoseWrites [Screenshot of Canadian Blood Services Sponsored Ad in My Facebook Feed]

On November 2nd, 2016 a Sponsored Ad

Appeared in My Facebook Feed, So I Commented:

Canadian Blood Services Sponsored Ad Comments
Credit: Screenshot by RoseWrites [Public Comments Under Sponsored Ad in My Facebook Feed November 2nd, 2016]

November 4th, 2016: "Sterling" is a Robot?

Canadian Blood Services "Sterling" Leaves Me Exact Message (4th Time)
Credit: RoseWrites (Screenshot: Canadian Blood Services Sponsored Ad Comments in my Facebook Feed)

November 6th, 2016: "Sterling" is Tarnished

Canadian Blood Services Sponsored Ad Comments Publicly Posted November 6, 2016
Credit: Screenshot by RoseWrites Nov. 6th, 2016 of Canadian Blood Services Sponsored Ad Comments on Facebook

After Plotting the WHO and FDA Guidelines

Plus the Study Findings Over Mosquito Season, I Could Not Believe the Actions (or Rather Inactions) of the Canadian Blood Services or the American Red Cross!

2016 Timeline of Blood Donation Screening in North America and Peak Mosquito Season
Credit: Created by RoseWrites (aka Rose Webster) October 23rd, 2016 | All Rights Reserved (Ask Me About Reuse)

The Protocol is Usually to Triple the Time

And For Good Reason

On Friday, March 25, 2016, the CDC issued Updated Zika Recommendations: Timing of Pregnancy after Zika Exposure, Prevention of Sexual Transmission, Considerations for Reducing Unintended Pregnancy in Areas with Zika Transmission. It stated:

 "In making these recommendations, we considered the longest known risk period for these categories. We then allowed for three times the known period of time."[12]
 
Another source:
 
"To be sure no virus is in the blood even after a silent infection, the CDC recommends waiting eight weeks — triple the amount of time the virus has been known to persist."[13]
 
There is good reason to triple the time, during the Ebola crisis, we were fed the following headlines:
Ebola virus lives on in semen months after recovery, new research finds
Ebola Virus Remains in Semen for Up to 9 Months
Ebola virus remains present in semen for as long as 18 months
Yet on August 30th, 2016, I read Ebola virus lasts in semen for up to 565 days: study.[14] That's over a year and a half!
 
 
Damage Control Resuscitation of Severely Injured Soldiers - U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
Credit: U.S. Army Materiel Command on flickr (CC-by-2.0)

How Long is the Zika Virus in Blood? 3 Months

Viral RNA in Serum 8 Days; Whole Blood 81 Days

Yesterday, October 21st, 2016, the CDC posted Volume 23, Number 1—January 2017: Prolonged Detection of Zika Virus in Vaginal Secretions and Whole Blood.[15]

And I submitted the following (slightly condensed for this article) comment to its authors. I know it was received since the prompt "Comment submitted successfully, thank you for your feedback" appeared after I sent it.

Dear Murray KO, Gorchakov R, Carlson AR, Berry R, Lai L, Natrajan M, et al.,
 
I want to address two sentences in your study. And I would like you, the CDC, WHO, and any other public health expert who reads this to kindly address my concerns.
 
Re: "We detected viral RNA in serum up to 8 days and in whole blood up to 81 days after onset of illness."
 
Further along, you state:
 
"Our observation is further supported by another recent study that found whole blood samples positive for Zika virus by PCR up to 2 months postinfection (13)."
 
When I looked up this study (citation 13) "Detection of Zika virus RNA in whole blood of imported Zika virus disease cases up to 2 months after symptom onset, Israel, December 2015 to April 2016", it alarmed me that the dates in the title are "December 2015 to April 2016" – not exactly a "recent" study, in my mind (given this crisis) – and it revealed:
 
"Whole-blood samples were positive for as late as 2 months (58 days) post-symptom onset, longer than for urine (26 days) and serum (3 days)."
 
Yet, the WHO stated in April: "Advise travellers from areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission to practice safer sex and not to donate blood for at least 1 month after return, to reduce the potential risk of onwards transmission."[17]
 
Today (October 21st, 2016), I see that this same WHO webpage titled Travel health advice on Zika virus (updated 3 October 2016) still states: 
 
"Advise travellers from areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission to practice safer sex or abstinence for at least 6 months and not to donate blood for at least 1 month after return, to reduce the potential risk of onwards transmission."[16]
 
Dr. Lanciotti revealed that the Tioplex assay failed to detect the Zika virus in almost 40 percent of cases. And given the recent news that there is more tainted blood in Florida, can anyone address the following:
 
1) Is our blood supply (in the U.S. and Canada) being double tested? 
 
2) Is the Trioplex assay still being used in the U.S., Canada, or elsewhere? 
 
3) Is anyone going to recommend level 3 travel restrictions (for both sexes) to wherever the Zika virus is spreading (including Florida)?
 
Four million Canadians visit Florida every year (many stay for months) I am extremely concerned that this information has not been made known to our blood supply agencies, labs, or the public.
 
Furthermore, I remain convinced that level 3 travel restrictions are warranted (and were long ago) to mitigate the spread of the Zika virus – an incurable disease with no vaccine likely (for at least a decade). 
 
The latest: "ZIKV infection affects viral and human RNAs by altering the topology and function of N6-adenosine methylation (m6A), a modification affecting RNA structure and function."[18]
 
“These findings are also something researchers should keep in mind as they are designing new Zika virus vaccines and treatments that target the viral genome — some approaches won’t work unless they take methylation into account,” said senior author Tariq Rana, PhD, professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
 
Thank you in advance.
 

WPTV News | West Palm Beach Florida

Charlie Keegan Asked Gov. Scott to Explain Why his Office Never Told the Public About Zika-Infected Blood

News Channel 5 confirmed a blood donation in August tested positive for Zika. The Florida Department of Health said it counted the case just like any other case. Making no differentiation in its daily report.

Gov. Scott explained that's because experts treat the cases the same way.

Because Experts Treat the Cases the Same Way

India Requires Donors to Wait 120 Days (4 Months)

I am relieved to hear that India is taking measures to protect their blood supply.  

Dr Srikala Acharya, director of Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS), confirmed: 

"It has now been made mandatory to check the travel history of donors to find out whether they have recently travelled to any of the Zika-affected countries."[20]

Addendum November 21st, 2016

Over 1/2 Million Blood Donations Test Positive For Zika

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defended its recommendation that all blood in the U.S. be screened for the Zika virus. 

As of November 12th, 2016, a whopping 564,571 donations have tested positive on the cobas Zika test.

Dr. Jay S. Epstein, Office of Blood Research and Review director at the FDA, said in a statement:

"Zika virus is a transfusion transmitted disease which can cause potentially severe consequences including microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. The requirement to test blood donations for Zika virus has already resulted in interdicting contaminated collections confirming the value of testing."[21]

Addendum January 8th, 2017: A NEJM Post

ZIKV in Pregnant Woman's Serum For 107 Days

A NEJM Journal Watch post[22] by Richard T. Ellison III, MD states:

  • Zika virus was detectable in a pregnant woman's serum samples for more than 3 and a half months after symptom onset.
  • Maternal viremia persisted through 107 days after symptom onset, on six assays with a relatively stable viral load. 
  • Persistent viremia may serve as an early marker for ZIKV disease in the newborn and could help guide management of pregnant women with ZIKV infection. 

Addendum January 12th, 2017

Zika in Saliva 49 Days; in Whole Blood 101 Days

For over a month and half, the Zika virus persists in saliva. That means a cough or sneeze can easily spread it to someone nearby. 

Within a month, I cough a sneeze a few times (even when I am not ill).

Also, it's been found in whole blood for 101 days.[23] Notably, the patient wasn't a pregnant woman; the patient was a 41-year-old man.

Screenshot of Zika: persistence in whole blood assists late, direct diagnosisCredit: Screenshot by RoseWrites of Univadis site (since only healthcare professionals can access it) [Fair Use]

Screenshot taken by RoseWrites on January 17th, 2017 of Univadis website page (since information is only accessible to healthcare professionals) [Fair Use]

Addendum January 13th, 2017: Tina Marie

From the American Red Cross Responded to Me

I decided to leave Facebook comments on both the American Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross posts / ads (since these often show up in my feed).

The comment I left: "Ask if the American Red Cross is going to extend their 28-day wait for donors returning from Zika-endemic areas. Zika has been found in whole blood for a whopping 101 days. In India, donors must wait 4 months."

I was aghast to receive this response on the American Red Cross Facebook page from Tina Marie:[24]

"Hi Rose. I also have a home in Panama which is on the list but because Zika is also now being found in the USA (from bites here and not just travelers) I'm hoping this will cause testing just like it is done for HIV. Thankfully, Zika can be tested.

Rarely am I bitten anymore as because of the humidity there, I tend to spray all over after showering while I'm there. 

Plus, in most cases there are flu like symptoms so many get tested in the affected areas.

I'm hoping it's not extended as there's a dire need for blood. I believe the 28 day is the symptoms waiting period as you should know within that time. 

They are going to most likely have to do something since it's sexually transmittable to people who've not traveled. My hope is in blood testing."

I responded: "Tina Marie Well, it's a shame (and waste of valuable resources - staff, blood bags, needles, etc. if they don't extend it). A whopping 80 percent of those infected have no symptoms, so how are these donors supposed to know within 28 days? Did you know that over 1/2 million donations have already tested positive for ZIKV?" 

I took a screenshot of Tina Marie's response too (shown below).

Tina Marie Hopes 28-Day Wait is NOT Extended

I Hope You Or Someone You Love Does Not Need Blood

American Red Cross Facebook Page Tina Marie Doesn't Want 28-Day Wait Extended
Credit: Screenshot by RoseWrites of American Red Cross Facebook Page and Tina Marie's Response [Fair Use]

Addendum: February 14th, 2017

Persistence of Zika Virus in Body Fluids - Preliminary Report

On February 14th, 2017, The New England Journal of Medicine posted the study "Persistence of Zika Virus in Body Fluids — Preliminary Report"[25] by Gabriela Paz-Bailey et al. which clearly states:

"The minimal time that persons who have potential exposure to ZIKV should avoid donating blood is currently 120 days."

India was wise to impose the 120-day wait for donors who return from Zika-endemic areas (like Florida).

 

Based on What We Know so Far About Zika

The Time Travelers Should Wait to Donate Blood

Everyone involved in public health and safety of our blood supply should be tripling the time that the Zika virus has been found in blood. What that means:

120 days x 3 = 360 days divided by 30 (1 month) =  1 year

Prior to that, on or soon after June 30th, 2016, this should have been:

58 days x 3 = 174 days divided by 30 (1 month) = 5.8 months

Furthermore, I find it highly deceptive for the WHO to advise "not to donate blood for at least 1 month" since obviously our public health authorities and those involved in ensuring we have a safe blood supply have interpreted this to mean "wait a month to donate blood" (or just 28 days).

In Canada, it's even worse. Canadian Blood Services has somehow decided that a mere 21 days (3 weeks) is long enough.

We are headed for a disastrous public health emergency.

Sadly, this is (and was) highly preventable.

Ways You Can Help

Spread the word. Share this article. Ask questions. Do not donate blood (and tell others not to donate blood) if you have been to a Zika-endemic area within the last year (including the southern U.S. states).

I would wait a good year, actually, before I donated blood.

Recently, I created a collection on Zazzle with products that promote the prevention of the spread of Zika. Every item purchased will help fund Zika research: Zika: Let's Stop a Global Pandemic Collection.[19]

Author's note: All of my citations have a clickable link to their source. The list is found in the bibliography at the end of this page.