Chagas Disease

Héma-Québec implements a new measure to ensure the safety of the blood product supply

Montreal, May 27, 2009 – Since March 29, 2009, blood donors have had to meet a new blood donor eligibility criterion regarding Chagas disease, an infectious illness rife in Mexico and in Central and South America*, that can be transmitted through blood transfusion.

Now, to preserve the safety of the blood product supply, a blood sample from donors who have spent over one month in an endemic country* will be given a screening test for Chagas disease. This is also the case for donors born in one of these countries or whose mother or maternal grandmother was born there.

To identify individuals likely to present a risk for this disease, three new questions have been added to the record of donation. Héma-Québec estimates that fewer than 3% of donors will be affected by this new measure and that its implementation will not impact the blood reserve.

“The safety of the blood product supply in Quebec is a priority at all times, which is why we are closely monitoring the emergence of new blood-borne diseases and do not hesitate to apply the necessary precautions in the aim of ensuring that our blood products are safe”, stated Dr. Francine Décary, President and Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec.

Chagas disease is mainly transmitted by an insect bite. Antiparisitic treatment can combat this disease which, if untreated, can lead to serious long-term complications. More detailed information is available on the Héma-Québec website, under the heading Donor Qualification in the Blood Donation section.

* The countries targeted by the blood donation eligibility criterion concerning Chagas disease are: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela.

About Héma-Québec 

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