BLOOD BANKS are facing another threat in addition to the hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV).
Two US cases of Chagas' disease have been traced to blood transfusions from asymptomatic donors who carried the causative parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, from Central or South America, where it is endemic and a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Some experts fear more transfusion-associated cases will be seen unless measures are taken.
Looking at Donors
A transfusion-related case in California led Peter R. Kerndt, MD, Los Angeles County (Calif) Health Department; Louis V. Kirchhoff, MD, MPH, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City; and colleagues to survey blood donated at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Hospital blood bank, where annually about 40% of the 5000 donors are from Latin America, about half from Chagas' disease endemic areas. In their study of 1000 consecutive blood donors, Kerndt and colleagues found 1