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Zika

Donor Qualification

Travel

Travelling to certain regions abroad will result in temporary or permanent ineligibility to donate blood. This restriction is based on four criteria:

If, during the past 21 days, you have returned from a trip to someplace other than Canada, the continental United States or Europe, you cannot give blood for three weeks (21 days) following the date on which you returned.

This measure concerns not only the risks associated with the Zika virus, but also other similar viruses. It applies in particular to Dengue fever and Chikungunya.

Questions and answers

This virus is an arbovirus, namely one that is transmitted by mosquitoes.

The Zika virus was discovered in 1947 in the Zika forest in Uganda (Africa), although outbreaks have been documented recently elsewhere around the planet, particularly in Polynesia.

Toward the end of 2015, a major epidemic of this virus was detected in South America, specifically in Brazil.

The Zika virus is transmitted principally by means of a mosquito bite.

The Center for Disease Control has indicated that the Zika virus can be transmitted by blood. The agency has also identified a transmission through blood transfusion in Brazil. No case of transmission by transfusion has been reported in Québec.

The two mosquitoes that are vectors for the virus (Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti) are not present in Canada. These two mosquitoes are also the principal vectors for Chikungunya and Dengue fever, two pathogens which Héma-Québec has been monitoring vigilantly for several years.

The incubation period (namely the time between the mosquito bite and the start of viremia) is approximately five days and the viremia (presence of the virus in the blood) is approximately seven days.

Considering its transitory presence in blood and since 80% of people infected with the virus have no symptoms, the Zika virus could potentially be transmitted through transfusion.

In approximately 80% of cases, the infected person has no symptoms.

The most common symptoms are flu-like (fever, headache, muscle pain), with skin rashes and joint pain. They appear in the days following the mosquito bite and disappear in two to five days.

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