Zika Virus: Potential Threat to Transplant Patients?

I admit usually I’ve been tone deaf when it comes to virus threats because I feel the media blows them out of proportion.  Working at WebMD (Medscape) for years I saw too many viruses overhyped resulting in chicken little syndrome.

But I do listen when UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) takes a stance on a virus, because it could possibly be a threat to me (even if I don’t meet the media standard criteria of being at risk).

I still remain calm since the risk is probably relatively low, but its worth keeping on the radar. I didn’t know that the virus could be passed through a blood transfusion or manifest later in the body through donor lungs (or other donor organs) that were exposed. I also didn’t know what physical symptoms someone gets from the virus. But these in fact do pose risks to transplant patients, according to UNOS.  It’s not a virus that is concerning only to pregnant women.

Keep in mind, post transplant travelers could also be exposed if they travel to areas where the virus is presently active. Or if Zika infected mosquitos migrate & make their way here at some point.

It sounds like UNOS is calling for immediate development of testing standards for transplant centers. This way they can screen potential donors to see if they’ve been exposed.

This is a wise first move to mitigate the threat to our community, especially those of us listed & waiting for organs & those who will be soon.

I’m not alarmist but I do believe in passing information like this along when I receive it. Especially where UNOS is concerned since they’re typically proactive & nonalarmist (as they are here).

I believe in passing around useful & pertinent information to my friends in the transplant community, even if it’s only basic details to start, just to raise awareness.

I commend UNOS for this stance & for spreading accurate information so those of us can access our risk. Also so post transplant patients can weigh theirs if they must travel to areas where Zika is presently active.


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