REJECTING prospective blood donors who are at risk of carrying the Chagas' disease parasite may help prevent the spread of the potentially fatal disease in the United States without significantly reducing blood supplies, even in communities that have a large number of immigrants from areas of Latin America where the disease is endemic.
This is the conclusion of a study by the Los Angeles County—University of Southern California Hospital Blood Bank that was presented in November at the annual meeting of the American Association of Blood Banks, held in Los Angeles. The study describes the effects of a donor screening policy adopted last year after one case of transfusion-associated Chagas' disease was reported in California and one in New York, NY (JAMA. 1989;262:1433).
The blood bank's policy calls for the questioning of prospective donors who were born in or who traveled to areas of Latin America where Chagas' disease is