Background: A second Italian external quality assessment programme was run in 2011 to assess the performance of blood transfusion centres in detecting West Nile virus RNA in plasma.
Materials and methods: Each participant received two panels containing negative samples and samples positive for West Nile virus lineages 1 and 2, some of which with a viral concentration close to or below the 95% limit of detection of the respective commercial nucleic acid amplification test assay: the PROCLEIX WNV assay or the Cobas TaqScreen West Nile virus test.
Results: Eleven laboratories took part in the external quality assessment programme. All of them correctly identified the positive samples with a viral concentration above the 95% limit of detection. No false positive results or pre-/post-analytical errors were observed.
Discussion: The External quality assessment programme run in 2011 allowed participants to assess the performance of the nucleic acid amplification test methods applied in their seasonal routine screening of blood donations. The results confirm the 95% limit of detection reported by the test kits' manufacturers for both West Nile virus lineages.