How prevalent are transfusion-transmitted bacterial infections (TTBIs)?

Updated: Jan 15, 2017
  • Author: Mudassar Zia, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Bacteria or, for that matter, any infective agent that potentially evades the sterility of the transfusion loop can come from the donor's blood or skin or from a contaminated environment. As previously stated, however, bacteria are most common infective agents to be transmitted through blood transfusion, a fact supported by extensive data that have been derived from studies such as the following:

  • French Haemovigilance Bacthem study - From France; regarding determinants of transfusion-associated bacterial contamination [1]

  • US Assessment of the Frequency of Blood Component Bacterial Contamination Associated with Transfusion Reaction (BaCon) study - From the United States; regarding transfusion-transmitted bacterial contamination in the US from 1998 through 2000 [2]

  • United Kingdom Serious Hazard of Transfusion (SHOT) program - From the United Kingdom; data collection in the UK and Ireland regarding deaths or major complications of transfusion of blood or its components [3]

The incidence of bacterial transmission depends on the blood product and also on the definition of the cases.

The estimated residual risk of contamination of blood products with bacterial agents is 1 in 5,000 for platelets and 1 in 30,000 for red blood cells. [2, 4] It has been proposed that the higher incidence of bacterial transmission via platelets is due to the difference in storage temperatures. Also important is the duration of storage, which has a direct correlation with the likelihood of bacterial contamination. [5, 6, 7]

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