Although primarily a vector borne disease, Zika is very much a blood borne pathogen, and as such, can be theoretically transmitted in a variety of ways.
Only six months ago sexual transmission of the virus was still thought to be exceedingly rare.
Today (see CDC : Sexual Transmission Of Zika May Be More Common Than Previously Believed) it is considered a genuine STD threat and the CDC has released comprehensive guidance on the prevention of sexual transmission.
We've also seen concerns raised over the possible (but not yet proven) transmission of the virus through infected saliva (see PLoS NTD: Isolation of Infective Zika Virus from Urine and Saliva of Patients in Brazil.)
And just 5 weeks ago, in Alleghany County PA: Zika Infection Of Lab Worker By Needle Stick, we saw an accidental Zika infection in the laboratory.
But with blood borne pathogens there is another category of transmission we worry about, the use of SoHOs (substances of human origin) like human blood, blood components, tissue, cells or organs that may be infected.
Previously we've looked at WHO: Interim Guidance To Maintain Safety Of Blood Supply From Zika Virus and FDA: Recommendations To Reduce Risk Of Zika Infection From Human Cell & Tissue Transplants, but today the ECDC has released a 31-page preparedness plan of their own.
While not exactly light reading (and trust me, you'll want to keep the included acronym chart handy), this document provides a preparedness framework should the Zika virus begin to make serious inroads into Europe.
Preparedness Guide on Zika and Substances of Human Origin
15 Jul 2016
Zika virus is mainly transmitted to humans through mosquitoes but can potentially also be transmitted through substances of human origin (SoHO) such as blood, tissue and cells. To be able to mount a rapid response, in the event of a Zika virus outbreak in Europe, this new guide offers a set of activities that should be considered in the preparation and implementation of a national preparedness plan for the safety of SoHO.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “EU legislation on the quality and safety of substances such as blood, tissues and cells, seeks to protect both donors and recipients from the transmission of viruses. To help Member States and professional establishments prevent, specifically, the possible transmission of the Zika virus via transfused blood or transplanted tissues, cells or organs, the ECDC prepared a guide of practical measures for this purpose. I very much welcome this guide and hope that it will be widely used."
ECDC Chief Scientist Mike Catchpole said: “This is a joint effort of a multi country expert team to define the measures necessary to manage the risks posed by Zika to the safety of substances of human origin. It is one of the ways in which the European Commission and ECDC offers support to the preparation and implementation of national preparedness plans for a Zika virus outbreak. It provides information and advice such as definitions of affected areas, advice on SoHO safety measures and guidance on who can do what to mitigate the consequences in case of local Zika virus transmission in Europe. It is important to assess and ensure the safety of both recipients and donors of SoHO in preventing the spread of Zika.”
The activities set out in this guide aim to assist the Member States in decision making on how to assess and manage the risks posed by Zika to the safety of SoHO. The guide identifies concrete activities to be considered at the local, national and EU level.
Read the guide: Zika virus and safety of substances of human origin – A guide for preparedness activities in Europe