To minimise the risk of potential blood donors transmitting infectious agents to patients, all donations used for the production of fresh blood components are subjected to stringent screening procedures. Australian Red Cross Lifeblood mandatory testing includes the screening of donations for the presence of Treponema pallidum (syphilis). Other non-viral infectious agents are also potentially transmissible by blood transfusion.
However, there are some infectious agents for which routine tests are not readily available to prevent the disease from being transmitted by transfusion. These include Chagas Disease and the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) linked to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) which is transmitted by a prion.
The residual risk of transmission by transfusion varies according to the incidence of the infection in the donor population and the donor screening processes that are in place.
Blood donors are subjected to a panel of stringent screening procedures, including collection of a comprehensive medical and travel history as part of the donor assessment process.
For example, Chagas' disease is a disease transmitted by the parasite, Trypansosoma cruzi and is known to be transmitted by transfusion of fresh blood products. It is endemic in Central and South America and therefore people born or have received fresh blood products from these areas are restricted to donation of plasma for fractionation only.
What to do?
Treat the specific diagnosis, if available.
1. WHO Chagas Disease (American trypanosomiasis) factsheet http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs340/en/