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Press releases and statements

Updated information on the Zika virus

Update about the Zika virus means fertility clinics should be extra vigilant when considering people for fertility treatment or gamete donation.

Whilst the situation is still evolving and given the potentially significant consequences for a pregnancy if Zika is transmitted via the sperm, donors should be asked about recent travel. This latest update provides further recommendations relating to stored sperm, by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissue and Organs (SABTO).

In light of a recent ECDC risk assessment update the following recommendations have been updated, with an increase in the period where a person should not try to conceive naturally, donate gametes or proceed with fertility treatment, from 28 days to 8 weeks.

This advice remains consistent with the advice being given to potential blood, organ and tissue donors and by Public Health England to travellers from affected areas.

  • A person who has travelled to an area where the Zika virus is present should not try to conceive naturally, donate gametes or proceed with fertility treatment for 8 weeks
  • Anyone who has had a known Zika virus infection should not try to conceive naturally, donate gametes or proceed with fertility treatment for 6 months.

The ECDC risk assessment also outlines that sperm donors should not donate for 8 weeks after sexual contact with a male who travelled to an affected area within the last 28 days or was diagnosed with Zika.

As stated previously, sperm donors who have been infected with Zika virus should be deferred from donation for six months unless the semen tests negative for Zika virus RNA by nucleic acid testing (NAT). Asymptomatic sperm donors should be deferred for six months after return unless the semen tests negative for Zika virus by NAT. Further to this the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SABTO) have provided recommendations relating to stored sperm, advising that it is not necessary to reject all stored donated samples.

For further details, relating to donation see ECDC risk assessment update

For further details and guidelines for pregnant women see the BFS website

Page last updated: 15 August 2016