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Transfusion. 2007 Jul;47(7):1125-33.

Prevention of transfusion of platelet components contaminated with low levels of bacteria: a comparison of bacteria culture and pathogen inactivation methods.

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Department of Transfusion Medicine and the Institute for Hygiene and Social Medicine, University of Innsbruck, University Hospital Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Erratum in

  • Transfusion. 2012 Aug;52(8):1842. Allersdorfer, Doris [corrected to Allerstorfer, Doris].



This study compared the efficacy of bacterial detection with inactivation for reducing the risk associated with transfusion of platelet (PLT) components contaminated with low levels of bacteria.


Twenty-one double-dose PLTs were spiked with seven species of bacteria at three levels (0.003-0.03, 0.03-0.3, 0.3-3 colony-forming units [CFUs]/mL). After split, each PLT unit contained 1 to 10, 10 to 100, and 100 to 1000 CFUs. One unit was photochemically treated (PCT; 150 micromol/L amotosalen and 3 J/cm(2) ultraviolet A). The other unit was untreated. All units were stored and sampled on Days 1, 2, and 5 of storage for aerobic and anaerobic culture in the BacT/ALERT system (bioMérieux). PLTs were classified as sterile when no bacterial growth was detected after 120 hours of culture.


In all PCT PLTs, no bacteria were detected throughout 5 days of storage regardless of species, level of contamination, and sampling time. In untreated PLTs, Staphylococcus aureus was consistently detected by culturing. Growth of 1 to 10 CFUs per unit Staphylococcus epidermidis, 1 to 100 CFUs per unit of Klebsiella pneumoniae, and 1 to 1000 CFUs per unit Propionibacterium acnes was delayed and only detectable after 5, 2, and 5 days of storage, respectively. Low levels of Streptococcus agalactiae (1-10 CFUs/unit), Escherichia coli (1-100 CFUs/unit), and Clostridium perfringens (1-100 CFUs/unit) were not detected during 5 days of storage, although bacterial outgrowth was detected at higher levels of contamination.


For the seven bacterial species examined, contaminated PLTs may be released for transfusion on test-negative-to-date status. In contrast, bacterial inactivation by PCT could reduce the risk associated with transfusion of PLTs contaminated with low levels of these bacteria.

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