A blood donation tests positive for the West Nile virus following Héma-Québec screening

A blood donation tests positive for the West Nile virus following Héma-Québec screening

Montréal, September 3, 2005 – For the first time, Héma-Québec’s West Nile virus (WNV) screening test has detected the presence of WNV in a blood donation collected in Montréal on August 31, 2005. All blood products derived from the donation haven’t been used and have been destroyed. Both the donor and public health authorities have been notified. The donor concerned has been prohibited from donating blood for 56 days. At the end of this temporary prohibition period, the virus will no longer be present in the donor’s blood.

As a result of this confirmed case, Héma-Québec is screening every individual blood sample collected since September 2 until September 14 during the blood drives held in the Montréal, Laval, Montérégie and Northern metropolitan areas. In the case that no positive cases among blood donors are detected after a two-week period, Héma-Québec will resume its pooled sample screening method.Héma-Québec tests all the blood components it produces for WNV during the season of high risk. The present result confirms the effectiveness of the screening test, which has been used to analyse over 500,000 donations since it was implemented in June 2003. The detection of blood donations infected by this virus obliges the blood product supplier to exclude certain donors during a given period. It is therefore important for Quebeckers to continue to give blood generously during blood drives organized throughout Québec this summer. There is a constant need for blood during the summer and Héma-Québec hopes to welcome more than 7,000 donors per week to meet hospitals’ requirements. Each blood donation is vital because it can help save up to four lives. It should also be noted that it is not possible to contract the WNV by donating blood.

Héma-Québec has implemented several precautionary measures as part of its action plan to counter the effects of the WNV on Québec’s blood supply. Furthermore, a special telephone hotline—1 877 VNO-HÉMA (1 877 866-4362)—has been set up for individuals with questions about the effects of the WNV on blood. This service is available from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays as well as from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Since the appearance of the WNV in Québec and Canada, Héma-Québec has monitored the situation on a proactive basis in conjunction with public health authorities and, in particular, its partner, Canadian Blood Services.

Created in September 1998, 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; and to provide and develop expertise and services, along with specialized and innovative products, in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

Give blood. Give life.