Thursday, September 12, 2013

Florida: Dengue Forces Suspension Of Blood Donations In Two Counties


Credit Martin County Health Department


# 7758



In a follow up to a report from a couple of weeks ago (see Florida: Dengue Count Rises To 8) the latest State of Florida Arbovirus Surveillance report indicates:


In 2013, a total of 16 cases of locally acquired dengue have been reported.

Fifteen cases of dengue have been reported as acquired in Martin County with onsets in July (4) and August (11), 2013. Of these 15 cases, nine are residents of Martin County; four are residents of St. Lucie County; and two are out-of-state visitors. One case of dengue has been reported as acquired in Miami-Dade County by a Miami-Dade resident with onset in August, 2013.


Location St. Lucie & Martin Counties

Since it is possible to be infected with Dengue, yet show no signs of illness, and since the virus can be carried and transmitted by blood, out of an abundance of caution the largest blood collection agency in the region has temporarily announced suspension of blood donations in Martin & St. Lucie county. released the following press release (and video), yesterday.

Blood Center to Temporarily Halt Collections in Martin and St. Lucie Counties

Proactive Steps Taken Due to Dengue Fever

(Orlando, Florida | September 11, 2013) As a proactive and precautionary measure, OneBlood is temporarily suspending blood collection operations in Martin and St. Lucie counties in Southeast Florida until further notice.  The decision comes after more than a dozen cases of Dengue Fever have been reported by the Florida Department of Health in these two counties over the past several weeks.

“Safety of the blood supply is our number one priority,” said Dr. Rita Reik, Chief Medical Officer for OneBlood.  “We will resume blood collections in Martin and St. Lucie counties once it is determined the threat of Dengue Fever has been minimized,” Reik said.

OneBlood will remain in close contact with the Florida Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will be alerted should additional cases of Dengue Fever be reported. 

Blood collections in other areas of OneBlood’s service area remain operational.  The blood center urges people living in areas not impacted by Dengue Fever to please donate and help ensure safe and available blood for local hospitals and their patients.

The public should take great comfort in knowing our local blood supply is safe and meets the highest possible standards mandated by the FDA.

Blood donations profoundly affect the lives of patients in our community and in many cases one donation can save up to three patients. For more information about donating blood and to find a donor center near you visit


Earlier this year, the CDC’s EID Journal published a dispatch on the safety of Australia’s blood supply  following sporadic outbreaks of Dengue in that country. Their finding was the odds of contracting dengue through a blood transfusion was low, but not non-existent.



Implications of Dengue Outbreaks for Blood Supply, Australia

Helen M. FaddyComments to Author , Clive R. Seed, Jesse J. Fryk, Catherine A. Hyland, Scott A. Ritchie, Carmel T. Taylor, Kathryn L. Van Der Merwe, Robert L.P. Flower1, and William J.H. McBride1

Dengue outbreaks have increased in size and frequency in Australia, and transfusion-transmitted dengue poses a risk to transfusion safety. Using whole blood samples collected during the large 2008–2009 dengue epidemic, we estimated the risk for a dengue-infectious blood donation as ≈1 in 7,146 (range 2,218–50,021).

Dengue causes >50 million infections per year worldwide; however, the true incidence is expected to be higher given that asymptomatic infection is possible (1). Dengue virus types 1–4 (DENV-1–4) are emerging or reemerging in many regions of the world (1,2), including Australia (3). One of the largest epidemics in at least 50 years occurred in Queensland, Australia, during 2008–2009, with separate outbreaks in Cairns (and surrounding regions; DENV-2, DENV-3; 2008–2009), Innisfail (DENV-4; 2009), and Townsville (DENV-1, DENV-3; 2009), totaling >1,000 confirmed clinical cases (3).

(Continue . . . )


And in 2009, the Journal of Transfusion Medicine published a 55 page (open access) study  Is Dengue A Threat To The Blood Supply?, from which the following excerpt was lifted.




Increased prevalence in the population increases the risk that blood will be collected from a viraemic donor during the asymptomatic or subclinical phase of infection. Transmission of dengue through blood collected from asymptomatic donors has been demonstrated in the two reports from Hong Kong and Singapore, both occurring during the height of epidemics in these countries (Chuang et al., 2008; Tambyah et al., 2008). Blood services in countries experiencing dengue epidemics will need to decide whether stronger measures are needed to protect the blood supply.

(Continue . . . )



Meanwhile, the Martin County Health Department has issued a number of Dengue alerts and updates:




Prior to 2009, Florida had gone 6 decades without recording a locally acquired case.


Although the number of dengue cases reported in Florida remains very low, since Florida is home to two mosquito species that can transmit Dengue (Aedes aegypti & Aedes albopictus), and each year we see dozens of visitors arrive who are viremic (have the virus in their blood) – the ingredients are there to reintroduce local transmission of the disease.


For now, the the overall risk of contracting a mosquito-borne illness in Florida (or elsewhere in the United States) remains small, but sporadic reports of Dengue (along with West Nile, EEE, SLEV, and other rare arboviral threats) are a good enough reason that everyone should remember to follow the `5 D’s’ of mosquito safety:


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