Blood centers in Iowa and across the country are making last-minute preparations for a new test to check whether donated blood contains the West Nile virus. Christine Hayes of the Blood Center of Iowa — the state’s largest blood collection agency — says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is requiring the test. Hayes says the West Nile test shouldn’t take any longer than other blood screening tests. The Blood Center of Iowa and most other blood centers will begin conducting the West Nile screening test on or before July 1st.Last year, 23 West Nile cases in the U.S. were traced back to blood transfusions and Hayes says a screening test was quickly developed.Hayes says it’s just one more step in helping to ensure the safety of the blood supply and the health of the patients who’re receiving blood transfusions. Two Iowans died last year of the virus, but neither was linked to tainted blood transfusions. The Blood Center of Iowa provides blood to 45 Iowa hospitals.
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