Current practices and evaluation of screening solid organ donors for West Nile virus

Transpl Infect Dis. 2012 Jun;14(3):268-77. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3062.2012.00743.x. Epub 2012 May 20.


The first cases of West Nile virus (WNV) transmitted through solid organ transplantation (SOT) were identified in 2002. Subsequently, 5 additional clusters have been reported to public health officials in the United States. Based upon a limited number of known cases, patients who acquire WNV from infected donor organs might be at higher risk for severe neurologic disease and death, compared with patients infected through mosquito bites. In response, some organ procurement organizations (OPOs) have instituted pre-transplant screening of organ donors for WNV infection. We evaluated the current practices, concerns, and challenges related to screening organ donors for WNV in the United States by reviewing the relevant medical literature and interviewing key stakeholders. Screening organ donors for WNV is not required by national policy. In 2008, 11 (19%) of 58 OPOs performed WNV screening using nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT). These OPOs differ in their screening strategies, NAT performed, and logistical challenges. Concerns of delays in receiving NAT results before transplant and potential false-positive results leading to organ wasting are limitations to more widespread screening. Furthermore, it is unknown if WNV screening practices decrease SOT-related morbidity and mortality, or if screening is cost-effective. Additional data are needed to assess and improve transplant outcomes related to WNV.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Donor Selection / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting / methods
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting / standards*
  • United States
  • West Nile Fever / prevention & control*
  • West Nile Fever / transmission*
  • West Nile virus / isolation & purification*
  • Young Adult