Transfusion medicine
Transfusion transmitted disease

Topic Completed: 1 October 2011

Minor changes: 25 November 2020

Copyright: 2002-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Transfusion transmitted[TI] parasites

Huy P. Pham, M.D., M.P.H.
Page views in 2020: 9
Page views in 2021 to date: 98
Cite this page: Pham HP. Parasites. website. Accessed May 15th, 2021.
  • See also: Babesia
  • Babesiosis is caused by Bebesia microti in North America (transmitted by tick bite, Medscape: Babesiosis [Accessed 26 October 2017])
  • Parasite survives within refrigerated red cells (Transfus Med Rev 2002;16:131, Am Fam Physician 2001;63:1969)
  • Most frequently reported tick borne pathogen transmitted by blood transmission in the U.S. (Transfus Med Rev 2002;16:131)
  • More than 50 cases of transfusion transmitted babesiosis reported in U.S.
  • In Connecticut, estimated risk up to 1 in 1000; PCR revealed about 1 in 1,800 donors in Connecticut are parasitemic
  • Transfusion transmitted babesiosis symptoms: fever developing 1 - 4 weeks after transfusion; also headache, hemolysis; rarely renal failure and coagulopathy; often no / mild symptoms
  • High risk patients include immunocompromised, elderly, and asplenic patients (Transfusion 2000;40:285)
  • Donor selection strategy: don't collect blood in areas where disease vectors are endemic in spring and summer months
  • NAT or serologic testing can be done in future
  • See also: Plasmodium falciparum
  • There are four Plasmodium species that cause malaria in humans: P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. ovale, P. vivax
  • Common transfusion transmitted infection worldwide
  • In U.S., 1,300 new cases of malaria/year but only 1 - 2 cases are due to transfusion
  • Prevention of malaria transmission is through deferral of donors who had malaria in the preceding 3 years and travelers to endemic areas (Vox Sang 2006;90:77)
  • Most donors in transmission cases had traveled to an endemic area; are often "semi-immune" with low parasite loads (Transfus Med Rev 2005;19:229)

Risk of transfusion transmitted disease is estimated at 0.25 cases per million transfusions:
  • Usually results from transmission of P. falciparum
  • Symptoms can occur a week to several months after transfusions
  • Rarely fatal
  • May be marked difference in antigen versus antibody rate (Saudi Arabia 0.2% vs. 8%, Ann Saudi Med 2002;22:329)

Prevalence in donors (in endemic regions):
Trypanosoma cruzi

Donor / control positive rates:
Case reports
Trypanosoma cruzi
Back to top
Image 01 Image 02