West Nile Virus Among Blood Donors

As of July 8, 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports of a total of 5 presumptively viremic blood donors (PVDs) through its ArboNET surveillance program through state and local health departments

A presumptively viremic blood donor is a person whose blood tested positive when screened for the presence of West Nile virus. PVDs are followed up by the blood agency to verify their infection with additional tests. Some PVDs do go on to develop symptoms after donation, at which point they would be included in the count of human disease cases by their state.

These cases were reported from three states namely California, Kentucky and Louisiana.

Some facts about PVD

Agencies which regulate transplant and blood issues

The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have oversight over organ procurement and transplantation, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates tissue and blood.

Current protocol for testing donors or organs before a transplant is conducted

Organ donors are screened to identify infectious risks on the basis of national organ-procurement standards. Screening of all organ donors with WNV NAT is not currently required or routinely performed due to:

The length of turnaround time to obtain WNV NAT testing, and

The unproven test performance in the organ-donation setting. National guidelines for organ-donor screening are continuously reevaluated by the Health Resources and Services Administration in consultation with FDA, CDC, and organ-procurement organizations.

The system of testing donated blood for WNV by nucleic acid-amplification test (NAT) has markedly reduced the risk of transfusion transmission. 

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