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Reporting on science, technology and innovation in Arizona and the Southwest through a collaboration from Arizona NPR member stations. This project is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.Additional stories from the Arizona Science Desk are posted at our collaborating station, KJZZ: http://kjzz.org/science

Blood Drives Canceled in Yuma County Over Zika Concerns

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United Blood Services
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Two blood drives have now been canceled in Yuma County due to Zika concerns - the first in San Luis last month and another scheduled at Arizona Western College next week. This is leading to donation shortages of certain blood types in southwestern Arizona.

According to new Food and Drug Administration recommendations, individuals should not donate blood for four weeks after traveling to Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Zika virus is present in these areas.

“Because of this, we’re being particularly impacted by cities that are close to the border because a high percentage of the donors are not eligible to give blood,” said Sue Thew with United Blood Services.

The nonprofit serves more than 500 hospitals in 24 states. So far, they have only canceled the two Yuma County blood drives in Arizona.

Thew said the county lost about one-third of expected blood donations for March due to the Zika guidelines.

To-date, the Centers for Disease Control reports 258 travel-related Zika virus cases in the United States. Blood transfusions are not known to have transmitted the disease in the U.S., but suspected cases exist in Brazil.

United Blood Services has scheduled additional drives in the Yuma area next month to make up for lost donations.

Stephanie Sanchez contributed to this report.