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West Nile Virus: Héma-Québec announces the measures to ensure the safety of the blood reserve for Quebec patients

West Nile Virus: Héma-Québec announces the measures to ensure the safety of the blood reserve for Quebec patients

Montreal, Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - Héma-Québec has developed a test to detect the West Nile Virus (WNV) directly in the blood of all donors. As of June 9, a PCR test developed by Héma-Québec's Research and Development group will be used until the Roche Diagnostics test is implemented on July 1. The two tests are part of an action plan developed by Héma-Québec to counter the effects of the West Nile Virus on the Quebec blood reserve.

In addition to testing blood donations, Héma-Québec has also implemented other measures to ensure the safety of the blood reserve. In June 2003, 55% of blood donor clinics will be held outside the areas where human cases of West Nile Virus were identified last summer, even if the use of larvicides in the higher risk zones should reduce the number of mosquitoes and the risk of WNV considerably. Moreover, since January 2003, Héma-Québec has built up an inventory of frozen plasma products. These products can be used without danger starting July since they were collected at a time when the virus was not circulating. It should be noted that the first cases of transmission of the West Nile Virus (by mosquitoes) did not appear in Quebec before August 2002. It should also be noted that there were no cases of infection with the West Nile Virus caused by blood transfusions last year.

Finally, it is important for Quebecers to continue to give blood generously at the blood donor clinics held throughout Quebec this summer. Donors cannot contract the West Nile Virus by giving blood. The need for blood increases each year during the summer season. This summer, Héma-Québec hopes to welcome 7,000 blood donors each week in order to respond to the demand from hospitals.

Created in September 1998, Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, top-quality blood components and substitutes to meet the needs of all Quebecers, as well as to provide and develop expertise and services, along with specialized and innovative products, in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

Created in September 1998, Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, top-quality blood components and substitutes to meet the needs of all Québeckers, as well as to provide and develop expertise and services, along with specialized and innovative products, in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

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