Tick-borne diseases in transfusion medicine

L Pantanowitz, S R Telford, M E Cannon
Transfusion Medicine 2002, 12 (2): 85-106
Ticks are effective vectors of viral, bacterial, rickettsial and parasitic diseases. Many of the tick-borne diseases (TBDs) are of significance to transfusion medicine, either because of the risks they pose to the blood supply or the necessity for blood products required in their treatment. The transmission of tick-borne pathogens via blood transfusion is of global concern. However, among transfusion medicine practitioners, experience with most of these microorganisms is limited. Transfusion transmission of TBDs has been documented largely by means of single case reports. A better understanding of the epidemiology, biology and management of this group of diseases is necessary in order to assess the risks they pose to the blood supply and to help guide effective prevention strategies to reduce this risk. Unique methods are required to focus on donor selection, predonation questioning, mass screening and inactivation or eradication procedures. The role of the transfusion medicine service in their treatment also needs to be better defined. This article reviews the growing body of literature pertaining to this emerging field of transfusion medicine and offers some recommendations for transfusionists in dealing with TBDs.

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