HHS ships blood to Puerto Rico amid Zika outbreak

The Obama administration is now shipping blood products to Puerto Rico while the island fights off an outbreak of the Zika virus, which federal scientists say is likely spread through blood transfusions.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Monday that it shipped its first batch of blood products this past weekend to ensure the island has an “adequate supply” of blood.

U.S. health officials have not yet found a way to screen blood donations for the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects in pregnant women. The government said last week it would no longer accept blood donations from people who have been exposed to the virus.

The Zika virus, which is mostly mosquito-borne, would “likely” be transmitted through blood, HHS wrote in a statement Monday.

The federal health department plans to ship blood products to Puerto Rico until researchers develop a blood screening test.

“We are arranging the importation of blood products from areas unaffected by local Zika transmission to ensure the safety of Puerto Rico’s blood supply,” Dr. Karen DeSalvo, acting assistant secretary for health, wrote in a statement Monday.