Malaria : Tourists who visited certain areas of the Dominican Republic and have been back in Canada since May 6, 2005 may give blood

Montréal, July 20, 2005 – As of July 20, 2005, Héma-Québec has changed its blood donor selection criteria with respect to malaria. Tourists who travelled to the province of La Altagracia in the Dominican Republic, in particular, Bayahibe, Romana, Punta Cana as well as tourist sites on the islands of Catalina and Saona, and who have been back in Canada since May 6, may now give blood again. Note that there is no risk in the following Dominican Republic seaside resorts and cities: Bocachica, Cabarete, Juan Dolio, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, Sosua, Las Terenas and the Samana Peninsula.

Blood donors who have travelled since May 6 in regions of the Dominican Republic which are now considered no-risk, MUST call 1-800-847-2525, Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., BEFORE going to a blood drive site. Héma-Québec representatives will assess their eligibility to give blood according to their trip and the new revised criteria. Potential donors can also visit Héma-Québec’s Web site at www.hema-quebec.qc.ca for more information.

The blood product supplier decided to re-evaluate the at-risk areas as a result of the notice recently issued by the public health authorities concerned. In December 2004, Héma-Québec added new areas, where cases of malaria had been reported, to its existing exclusion criteria. Héma-Québec then excluded potential donors who travelled to areas with a risk of malaria in the Dominican Republic since October 1, 2004.

The exclusion is maintained for blood donors who travelled to malaria-risk areas in the Dominican Republic, especially in the rural areas. Such potential donors must wait six months after their departure from the concerned area before they can give blood. Héma-Québec recognizes over 100 tropical and subtropical countries which pose a malaria risk. In some cases, only a few regions of the country are considered to be malaria risks.

Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and cord blood to meet the needs of all Quebeckers; provide and develop expertise and services, along with specialized and innovative products in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

This summer, bring good habits to life.
Give blood. Give life.