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El Paso short hundreds of blood donations due to Zika virus restrictions

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EL PASO, Texas - The borderland is short hundreds of blood donations due to new restrictions stemming from the Zika virus.

At least 20 people walk though the doors of the United Blood Services donation center during the day and hundreds more donate at mobile sites, according to a UBS spokesperson.

But three weeks ago that all changed because health officials found the virus can be spread through blood transfusions. United Blood Services has now implemented a 28-day wait time from when donors return from affected countries, including Mexico.

This has made many people ineligible to donate, especially in El Paso. That's because many people travel across the border on a daily or weekly basis.

Mexico is one of several places where the Zika virus is active.

UBS told KFOX14 Thursday it would not meet its goal for the month of February for the first time in years. Spokesperson LuAnn Wieland said their only hope is if people donate this weekend.

Wieland said becsuse the Zika virus is still a relatively new problem, there are still a lot of unknowns.

"The sad thing, the scary thing, is that we are not really sure how long this is going to go on or how long it's going to (be in) effect," she said.

UBS has been sending donations to Puerto Rico, where blood collections have stopped entirely due to Zika.

UBS will be at the Cielo Vista mall Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. It's asking anyone in the borderland who has not traveled to Mexico to come out and donate.

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