High Incidence of Chikungunya Virus and Frequency of Viremic Blood Donations during Epidemic, Puerto Rico, USA, 2014

Emerg Infect Dis. 2016 Jul;22(7):1221-8. doi: 10.3201/eid2207.160116. Epub 2016 Jul 15.


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) caused large epidemics throughout the Caribbean in 2014. We conducted nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) for CHIKV RNA (n = 29,695) and serologic testing for IgG against CHIKV (n = 1,232) in archived blood donor samples collected during and after an epidemic in Puerto Rico in 2014. NAAT yields peaked in October with 2.1% of donations positive for CHIKV RNA. A total of 14% of NAAT-reactive donations posed a high risk for virus transmission by transfusion because of high virus RNA copy numbers (10 (4) -10 (9) RNA copies/mL) and a lack of specific IgM and IgG responses. Testing of minipools of 16 donations would not have detected 62.5% of RNA-positive donations detectable by individual donor testing, including individual donations without IgM and IgG. Serosurveys before and after the epidemic demonstrated that nearly 25% of blood donors in Puerto Rico acquired CHIKV infections and seroconverted during the epidemic.

Keywords: Puerto Rico; blood donors; chikungunya virus; epidemic; minipools; nucleic acid amplification test; seroprevalence; viremia; viruses.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Donors
  • Chikungunya Fever / epidemiology*
  • Chikungunya Fever / virology*
  • Chikungunya virus / isolation & purification*
  • Epidemics
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • Puerto Rico
  • Serologic Tests
  • Viremia / epidemiology*