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Blood Donations in U.S. Testing Positive for Chagas' Disease
Date:10/20/2007

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The American Red Cross was among the first blood collection agencies in the U.S. to begin testing donations for Chagas' in late January, following FDA approval of Ortho's blood-screening test in December 2006. Today, approximately 70 percent of all blood donations in the U.S. are now being screened for Chagas'.

"Ensuring the safety of the blood supply is a major public health priority, and one that our company is proud to play a role in," said Cliff Holland, worldwide president, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. "Screening blood donations for Chagas' reduces the risk of spreading this disease through blood transfusions."

In additional developments, public health authorities in the state of Arizona have made Chagas' a "reportable" disease. Three southern states are considering similar action. A reportable disease is one that must be reported to federal, state, or local health officials when diagnosed -- like active tuberculosis, hepatitis, gonorrhea and HIV, for example.

Also called American trypanosomiasis, Chagas' disease is an infection caused by the blood-borne parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, or T.cruzi. The disease is endemic to most countries in Central and South America, as well as Mexico. Transmission occurs through insect bites, blood transfusions, organ transplants and via infected pregnant women to children in utero. Early infection is usually mild and unrecognized, but persists lifelong and may lead to organ damage, particularly of the heart and esophagus, causing an estimated 50,000 deaths annually worldwide. Infection also can be severe in people whose immune systems are suppressed, such as organ transplant recipients. According to the CDC, as many as 8 to 11 million people in Mexico, Central America and South America have Chagas' disease. (1) Most do not know they are infected. Chagas' disease can be treated successfully if detected soon after the infection occurs, but there is no cure once the disease has entered the chronic sta
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SOURCE Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc.
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