What causes a bacterial contamination (sepsis) transfusion reaction?

Updated: Jan 02, 2019
  • Author: S Gerald Sandler, MD, FACP, FCAP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Bacteria may enter the blood product container if it is opened at any time from collection from the donor until transfusion to the recipient. Bacteria on the donor's skin may enter the container if the needle entry site on the donor's skin is sterilized incompletely.

Some donors implicated in septic reactions have low concentrations of bacteria (eg, Yersinia enterocolitica) in their blood (eg, bacteremia) but do not have a fever or other signs at the time of collection. If such contaminated blood is stored for a few days at room temperature (eg, platelets) or for a few weeks at refrigerated temperature (eg, red cells), bacteria may grow and elaborate endotoxin, which is a major adverse factor in such reactions. [55]


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