Federica Verra and Andrea Angheben contributed equally to this work
Transfusion-transmitted malaria (TTM) is an accidental Plasmodium infection caused by whole blood or a blood component transfusion from a malaria infected donor to a recipient. Infected blood transfusions directly release malaria parasites in the recipient’s bloodstream triggering the development of high risk complications, and potentially leading to a fatal outcome especially in individuals with no previous exposure to malaria or in immuno-compromised patients. A systematic review was conducted on TTM case reports in non-endemic areas to describe the epidemiological characteristics of blood donors and recipients.
Relevant articles were retrieved from Pubmed, EMBASE, Scopus, and LILACS. From each selected study the following data were extracted: study area, gender and age of blood donor and recipient, blood component associated with TTM, Plasmodium species, malaria diagnostic method employed, blood donor screening method, incubation period between the infected transfusion and the onset of clinical symptoms in the recipient, time elapsed between the clinical symptoms and the diagnosis of malaria, infection outcome, country of origin of the blood donor and time of the last potential malaria exposure.
Plasmodium species were detected in 100 TTM case reports with a different frequency: 45% Plasmodium falciparum, 30% Plasmodium malariae, 16% Plasmodium vivax, 4% Plasmodium ovale, 2% Plasmodium knowlesi, 1% mixed infection P. falciparum/P. malariae. The majority of fatal outcomes (11/45) was caused by P. falciparum whilst the other fatalities occurred in individuals infected by P. malariae (2/30) and P. ovale (1/4). However, non P. falciparum fatalities were not attributed directly to malaria. The incubation time for all Plasmodium species TTM case reports was longer than what expected in natural infections. This difference was statistically significant for P. malariae (p = 0.006). A longer incubation time in the recipient together with a chronic infection at low parasite density of the donor makes P. malariae a subtle but not negligible risk for blood safety aside from P. falciparum.
TTM risk needs to be taken into account in order to enhance the safety of the blood supply chain from donors to recipients by means of appropriate diagnostic tools.
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- A systematic review of transfusion-transmitted malaria in non-endemic areas
- BioMed Central
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