There have been few recent systematic studies of blood recipients for direct evidence of blood safety, especially for emerging pathogens that may pose a threat to the blood supply.
Recipients who would likely require transfusion from multiple donors were recruited and a blood specimen was collected before their first study transfusion and at intervals after their study transfusion(s). Blood samples associated with the units that were transfused to enrolled recipients were also collected. Part of each recipient specimen and selected donor specimens was tested for the targeted blood-borne agents, parvovirus B19 (B19) and Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cp), that were piloted in this study, and the remaining material was kept in a repository.
Between April 2004 and December 2006, a total of 120 recipients were recruited with 4047 subsequent donor exposures. On average, each recipient was followed up seven times. Of recipients who were adequately followed up and were initially immunoglobulin G antibody negative, one in 31 and one to two in 49 seroconverted to B19 and Cp after a total of 922 and 1413 evaluable transfusions, respectively. The detection of seroconversion was complicated by passively acquired donor antibodies for these two seroprevalent agents. Negative results for nucleic acids of the agents limited our ability to further clarify the relationship of these seroconversions to transfusion-transmitted infection.
The risk of transfusion-associated B19 infection appears to be low but no conclusion of transfusion transmission can be made for Cp. The approach piloted through this study offers added value beyond the current hemovigilance strategy in the United States.