DENVER (AP) — A Colorado West Nile death has been traced to a transfusion of blood that was screened for the virus, federal health officials reported Thursday.
The 2012 death was detailed in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient died after receiving blood that was approved for use after a screening for West Nile Virus.
The patient was identified only as a Colorado man who had cancer and was in the hospital for chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. He ended up dying of encephalitis caused by West Nile virus that the blood screening missed.
“The patient was hospitalized continuously for four weeks before illness onset without known outdoor exposure; therefore, mosquito-borne (West Nile) transmission was unlikely,” doctors wrote in the report published Thursday.
The report calls for further study of the blood-screening procedure and urges physicians to consider West Nile virus when patients show symptoms compatible with the virus after receiving blood transfusions.
“This is particularly important in immunosuppressed patients, such as stem cell recipients, who might be more susceptible to (West Nile) infection at very low viral concentrations in the transfused blood product,” researchers concluded.
The nation’s blood supply has been screened for West Nile virus since 2003. Since then, only 12 transfusion-associated West Nile cases have been noted, the CDC reported.
In the Colorado case, doctors traced nine other donations made by the donor of the tainted blood. They found no other cases where West Nile virus had been transmitted.
CDC West Nile report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6231a2.htm?s_cid=mm6231a2_w