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15.11.2003 Diaspora News

Malaria Case in Texas Linked to Blood Transfusion

By Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Malaria Case in Texas Linked to Blood Transfusion
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...Ghana Man's Blood NEW YORK - An elderly patient in Texas appears to be the first case of transfusion-transmitted malaria in the US since 1998, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

The 69-year-old patient was admitted to a Houston-area hospital earlier this year with blood pressure and kidney problems. While hospitalized, the patient was given two units of blood for anemia. Soon after, the patient was sent home.

Seventeen days after the transfusion, the patient developed a fever and became confused. Three days later, the patient was admitted to the intensive care unit of a different hospital. Tests revealed the presence of Plasmodium falciparum -- the parasite that causes malaria -- in the patient's blood. The patient was successfully treated with anti-malaria drugs and sent home three weeks later.

With the exception of the recent transfusion, the patient reported receiving no blood in the 12 months before hospitalization. Moreover, the patient reported no travel outside the Houston area since 1995.

With the assistance of the Texas Department of Health, the CDC was able to track down the two donors of the transfused blood. One was a middle-aged Texas woman who had never traveled outside the US, and the other was a young man originally from Ghana. Both history and lab test results suggested that the Ghanian donor was the source of malaria.

Current guidelines recommend that people from non-malarious areas who travel to a malarious region should not donate blood for at least 1 year after their return, provided that they have no symptoms. For people from malarious areas or those who have been diagnosed with malaria, the recommended waiting period is longer--at least 3 years.

The Ghanian donor "did not tell the screener about having malaria during the previous 3 years, and the screener did not defer the donor for immigrating within 3 years from an area with endemic malaria," the CDC notes.

"The case described in this report underscores the importance of close cooperation between managers of blood collection centers and state and federal public health officials whenever transfusion-related illness occurs," the group adds.

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