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Transfus Med. 2009 Apr;19(2):66-77. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3148.2009.00916.x.

Is dengue a threat to the blood supply?

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  • 1Blood Services Group, Health Sciences Authority, Singapore, Singapore.


Dengue is the most common arthropod-borne infection worldwide, affecting at least 50 million people every year and endemic in more than 100 countries. The dengue virus is a single-stranded RNA virus with four major serotypes. Infection with one serotype confers homotypic immunity but not heterologous immunity, and secondary infection with another serotype may lead to more severe disease. The major route of transmission occurs through the Aedes aegypti mosquito vector, but dengue has also been transmitted through blood transfusion and organ transplantation. Infection results in a spectrum of clinical illness ranging from asymptomatic infection, undifferentiated fever, dengue fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) to dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Dengue is spreading rapidly to new areas and with increasing frequency of major outbreaks. A trend has also been observed towards increasing age among infected patients. This will impact blood supply availability as more blood donors are deferred because of dengue infection or exposure to infection. The risk of transmission through transfusion of blood from asymptomatic viraemic donors will also increase. Although screening tests for dengue and effective pathogen reduction processes are now available for the blood supply, the value of implementing these costly measures needs to be carefully considered. Demand for platelets and fresh frozen plasma will rise with increasing number of DHF/DSS. Evidence-based guidelines for the clinical use of these blood components in the management of patients with DHF/DSS have not been well established, and inappropriate use will contribute to the challenges faced by blood services.

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