Singapore reports of 3 cases of dengue from blood transfusion

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With dengue virus endemic in the Philippines like in Singapore, it is worth knowing that three patients in Singapore contracted the virus through blood transfusions. Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, (P. A. Tambyah et al, NEJM, Vol 359, No.14, 1526-1527,) this has practical applications to blood banking in the country which tries to make donations and transfusions safe.

Dengue, the world’s most-common mosquito-borne disease, is endemic in Singapore, where it has infected more than 4,600 people this year. The city-state doesn’t screen donated blood for dengue because existing tests are too slow, and faster, more expensive tests that look for RNA, the virus’s genetic code, haven’t yet been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority said.”—Bloomberg News (10/03/08, Bennet, S)

If Singapore doesn’t perform testing for dengue in its blood bank, it is likely the same is true in the Philippines. This increases the chance of transfusion-transmitted dengue infection in endemic areas, putting the safety of blood in question. Without the testing, the only major layer of protection is a focus on patient’s history—find hints of dengue infection among blood donors, hopefully keeping them out of the blood bank pool. Unfortunately, this alone can’t guarantee the safety of the blood. =0=

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