While the Ebola outbreak continues to plague West Africa, there is concern from hospitals in developed nations about handling potentially infected laboratory specimens. The AABB Clinical Transfusion Committee recently posted a document urging healthcare personnel to follow CDC guidelines and to use additional precautions as needed when handling suspected Ebola samples.
To minimize healthcare worker exposure to suspected Ebola infected samples, some medical institutions have recommended skipping pre-transfusion testing and to use group O RBCs for transfusion of suspected Ebola patients instead. This approach, however, could potentially expose patients with alloantibodies to an unnecessary risk for transfusion reactions, especially since alternative diagnoses such as malaria and dengue are more likely to infect travelers from sub-Saharan Africa. Also noteworthy for the transfusion community, transfusion-transmitted Ebola virus has not been documented and is unlikely to occur with current blood screening guidelines. The AABB and the CDC urge all healthcare workers to frequently access the CDC Ebola web page for updates.
1. AABB. http://www.aabb.org/press/Pages/Infection-Control-for-Handling-Blood-Specimens-from-Suspected-Ebola-Patients.aspx. Accessed 9 September 2014.
2. CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/interim-guidance-specimen-collection-submission-patients-suspected-infection-ebola.html. Accessed 9 September 2014.