Marshalls look at importing blood after Zika case

9:47 am on 7 March 2016

The Marshall Islands is looking to import blood, so as not to put pregnant women at risk of contracting Zika should they need an emergency blood transfusion.

Pregnant mothers who are infected with Zika are at high risk of developing congenital malformation to their unborn child.

A 25-year-old in the early stages of pregnancy on the Marshall Islands was confirmed to have Zika, with the government declaring a state of health emergency in response.

The Ministry of Health's Helentina Garstang said because the virus could be transmitted by blood contact, pregnant mothers were being told not to receive local source blood transfusions.

Dr Garstang said it was recommended that they import blood.

"We are working on that in trying to see what is our stocktake and how much blood we need to be importing based on our population. Our population, or pregnancy delivery every year is about 1,000, so we're anticipating a lot."

She said pregnant women were being encouraged to come in to health clinics to pick up Zika kits, which include mosquito repellant and nets.

Tests for Zika

Tests for Zika Photo: AFP