West Nile Virus: Héma-Québec continues screening the sample pool

Montréal, September 24, 2004 – Héma-Québec continues to test all blood donations for the presence of the West Nile Virus (WNV), using the sample pool screening method that is commonly used in North America. Consequently, Héma-Québec has decided to suspend the additional measure it adopted this past summer, namely the individual testing of all blood samples collected in those regions that, according to regional public health directorates or the prevalence of donors infected with WNV, would be most affected by this virus.

In fact, between August 2 and September 22, 2004, Héma-Québec collected 37,718 pouches of blood and individually tested 16,235 blood samples from regions that had a high prevalence of WNV last year. As was the case in the summer of 2003, the WNV was not detected in any blood donation in 2004.

“Héma-Québec applies the highest standards and uses state-of-the-art technologies to ensure the safety and adequate supplies of the blood products distributed to hospitals for patients. Once again this year, we have been vigilant in testing for the West Nile virus in order to provide recipients with blood components of optimum quality,” said Dr. Francine Décary, Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec.

A special telephone hotline—1 877 VNO-HÉMA (1 877 866-4362)—has been set up for people with questions about the effects of the WNV on blood.

It should also be noted that donors cannot contract WNV by donating blood. It is therefore important for Quebeckers to continue to give blood generously at the blood donor clinics organized throughout Québec.

Created in September 1998, Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes and human tissues to meet the needs of all Quebeckers; and to provide and develop expertise and services, along with specialized and innovative products, in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.