UN agency lifts Zika emergency, prepares for long-term fight

Michigan Blood announces Zika screening for donations

In this Jan. 18, 2016, file photo, a female Aedes aegypti mosquito, known to be a carrier of the Zika virus, acquires a blood meal on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute of Sao Paulo University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)
In this Jan. 18, 2016, file photo, a female Aedes aegypti mosquito, known to be a carrier of the Zika virus, acquires a blood meal on the arm of a researcher at the Biomedical Sciences Institute of Sao Paulo University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

GENEVA (AP) — Acknowledging Zika is here to stay, the United Nations health agency is lifting a 9-month-old emergency declaration against the mosquito-borne virus that can result in severe birth defects when pregnant women are infected.

The World Health Organization is instead shifting to a longer-term approach against a virus that has spread across Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond.

Dr. David Heymann, head of a WHO emergency committee on Zika, cited a “significant and enduring” threat.

Nearly 30 countries have reported birth defects linked to Zika. WHO says more than 2,100 cases of nervous-system malformations have been reported in Brazil alone.

Zika is mainly spread by mosquitoes, but also can be spread through sex. Most infected people don’t get sick. It can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain.

SCREENING BLOOD DONATIONS

The same day as WHO’s announcement, Michigan Blood announced it would soon begin testing blood donations for the Zika virus, as recommended by the FDA.

The organization said it is partnering with Versiti at the Indiana Blood Center for the screenings, which will be made possible with Roche Molecular Systems’ Investigational New Drug.

Michigan Blood says its donors must now weigh slightly more to give blood – at least 112 pounds – since an extra tube of blood will be taken for the new blood tests.

Michigan Blood’s donor center is located at 1036 Fuller Ave. NE.