Background and objectives: The infrastructure established for screening blood donations for hepatitis C virus has enabled large-scale population testing for other viruses which are potentially transmissible by transfusion of blood components and plasma-derived blood products. We have measured the frequency of viraemia of enteroviruses and parechoviruses in 83 600 Scottish blood donors to allow an initial assessment of their risk to blood safety.
Materials and methods: Plasma samples collected from blood donors over 7 calendar months were tested anonymously in mini-pools of 95 donations, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for human enterovirus and parechovirus sequences.
Results: A total of 19 mini-pools, from the 880 that were tested, were PCR-positive for enterovirus RNA, predicting a donor prevalence of 0.023%. Enterovirus sequences were not detected in factor VIII or IX clotting factor concentrates. None of the 230 mini-pools or concentrates contained detectable parechovirus RNA.
Conclusions: The prevalence of enterovirus viraemia detected in this study predicts that at least 1000 enterovirus-contaminated blood components are transfused per year in the UK. The frequency of transmission and clinical outcome after exposure to enterovirus-contaminated blood components in recipients is unknown.