BACKGROUND: Emerging infections have been identified as a continuing threat to human health. Many such infections are known to be transmissible by blood transfusion, while others have properties indicating this potential. There has been no comprehensive review of such infectious agents and their threat to transfusion recipient safety to date.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: The members of AABB's Transfusion Transmitted Diseases Committee reviewed a large number of information sources in order to identify infectious agents with actual or potential risk of transfusion transmission now or in the future in the US or Canada; with few exceptions, these agents do not have available interventions to reduce the risk of such transmission. Using a group discussion and writing process, key characteristics of each agent were identified, researched, recorded and documented in standardized format. A group process was used to prioritize each agent on the basis of scientific/epidemiologic data and a subjective assessment of public perception and/or concern expressed by regulatory agencies.
RESULTS: Sixty-eight infectious agents were identified and are described in detail in a single Supplement to TRANSFUSION. Key information will also be provided in web-based form and updated as necessary. The highest priorities were assigned to Babesia species, Dengue virus, and vCJD.
CONCLUSION: The information is expected to support the needs of clinicians and transfusion medicine experts in the recognition and management of emerging infections among blood donors and blood recipients.