West Nile Virus : Héma-Québec confirms implementation of commercial test

Montréal, Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - Héma-Québec confirmed it has implemented the commercial test used to detect the presence of the West Nile Virus (WNV) in donated blood. All donated blood taken today will be analysed with this test, which was developed by Roche Diagnostics and which will replace the in-house test developed by Héma-Québec's R&D division. Since June 18, all blood components produced by Héma-Québec have been tested for the presence of the WNV using this in-house test.

Implementing the commercial test is part of an action plan developed by Héma-Québec to counter the effects of the WNV on Québec's blood supply. “This test is an addition to the range of highly accurate screening tests that Héma-Québec employs to ensure a safe blood supply in Québec,” said Dr. Francine Décary, Executive Director, Héma-Québec.

A hotline is available at 1 877 VNO-HÉMA (1 877 866-4362) for people with questions about the effects of WNV on blood from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

It is important for Quebeckers to continue giving blood generously at the blood donor clinics that will be organized throughout Québec this summer. We would like to remind everyone that donors cannot contract WNV by giving blood. Each year the need for blood increases during the summer season. This summer, Héma-Québec hopes to welcome more than 7,000 donors per week to meet the needs of hospitals.

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