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Change in Blood Screening Principles For West Nile Virus Advocated

Researchers from Columbia University and Harvard School of Public Health are of the opinion that the decision by almost all states in the US to screen donated blood// for the presence of West Nile Virus is not a feasible option.

WNV is detected in the blood by some very recently developed tests. This means that screening donated blood to see that it is not contaminated with WNV makes sense in order to avoid future infections. But the point is that many WNV infections remain dormant and do not produce overt clinical symptoms. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it mandatory to screen blood for the presence of WNV. But no specific strategies have been outlined, thus making the whole process costly. Now Caroline Korves (of Columbia University) in collaboration with Megan Murray and Sue Goldie (both at Harvard School of Public Health) have conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis on which test can best detect the presence of the virus. The study published in the latest international open-access medical journal PLoS Medicine says that in states where there is low transmission risk, screening at a high cost makes little sense, but in states with increased risk, screening will prevent infections even though it costs more. The report also suggests that modifying the current screening principles will be useful in this regard.

Article: Lee BY, Biggerstaff BJ (2006) Screening the United States blood supply for West Nile virus: A question of blood, dollars, and sense. PLoS Med 3(2): e99.


Paul Ocampo
Public Library of Science

Page: 1

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