Changes to donor criteria planned due to Zika virus

As we continue to monitor the evolution of the Zika virus, we are revising our eligibility criteria for donors to mitigate the risk of the virus entering the Canadian blood supply. Canadian Blood Services will implement a new deferral period for blood, cord blood and stem cell donors who have recently travelled to locations outside of Canada, the United States and Europe.

We are working with Health Canada and Héma-Québec to determine the length of the deferral period. In the meantime, we are asking all potential donors who have recently travelled to places outside of those mentioned to postpone their appointment and rebook one month following their return to Canada.

We anticipate a reduction in the number of donors due to this ineligibility period and encourage Canadians to donate before they travel to help make up for the anticipated shortfall. We also urge new and returning donors who have not recently travelled outside of Canada, the United States and Europe, to please book an appointment. New donors are critical to maintaining a healthy blood supply and ensuring patients continue to receive the safe and effective blood and blood products they need.

The risk of Zika virus transmission from a Canadian donor to a blood recipient is very low. This deferral period is being introduced as a precaution, since to date, there has been no evidence of Zika virus transmission by transfusion causing illness in a recipient.