Keeping Blood Transfusion Safe From West Nile Virus: American Red Cross Experience, 2003 to 2012

TitleKeeping Blood Transfusion Safe From West Nile Virus: American Red Cross Experience, 2003 to 2012
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsDodd RY, Foster GA, Stramer SL
Date PublishedJul

West Nile virus (WNV) appeared for the first time in the United States in 1999 and rapidly spread across the Western hemisphere within a few years causing hundreds of thousands of human infections and significant disease. In 2002, it was found to be transmissible by blood transfusion, and within less than a year, nucleic acid testing for WNV RNA was in place for all US donations. The American Red Cross (ARC) collects approximately 40% of blood donations in the United States and closely monitors the results of such testing and evaluates donors found to be reactive. This review describes the 10-year results of the ARC testing program during the period 2003 to 2012. Overall, more than 27 million donations were tested during the transmission periods with 1576 RNA-positive donations identified. The temporal and geographic distributions of the infected donors are described. Methods to initiate and discontinue periods of individual donation testing were developed and validated to maximize safety. The nature of WNV infection among donors was investigated, and the distribution of viral titers was defined and was found to be no greater than 720000 RNA copies per milliliter. The distribution of titers by time sequence of appearance of antibodies was determined. Donors who were identified as being in the earliest stages of infection were evaluated for the appearance of symptoms, and 26% developed at least 3 characteristic symptoms. The testing program has been successful in preventing transmission of WNV by transfusion, and only 1 of the 13 reported cases since the initiation of testing was attributable to the Red Cross; it was from a granulocyte product transfused before availability of the test result.

Alternate JournalTransfus Med Rev.
Notify Library Reference ID4772

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