What is the risk of transfusion-transmitted West Nile virus (WNV) infection?

Updated: Jan 15, 2017
  • Author: Mudassar Zia, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

The West Nile virus (WNV), a flavivirus, is transmitted by mosquito bite. The organism has the potential of being transmitted through blood. The infection is usually asymptomatic and goes undetected, but it may cause meningoencephalitis, especially in individuals who are older and who have depressed immunity, with a mortality rate of about 2.6%. In 2002, there were about 9858 cases of WNV infection reported to the CDC. [36, 37]

There are 2 important properties of WNV when compared with HCV, which is also a flavivirus. First, the transmission of WNV is seasonal, unlike HCV transmission, and second, even though a low-level viremia may exist for several months in the presence of immunoglobulin M (IgM), transmission occurs from donors who are acutely infected. [38, 39, 40]


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