Chagas Disease and Transfusion Risk in Italy: The Results of a National Survey

Pathogens. 2022 Oct 25;11(11):1229. doi: 10.3390/pathogens11111229.


Background: Universal serological screening in endemic areas is essential for preventing Chagas disease transmission by transfusions, while in non-endemic areas, screening is provided only to donors exposed to the infection risk. In this respect, in order to ensure high and uniform standards of quality and safety of blood components, the Italian National Blood Centre conducted a survey to detect information on management of donors at risk of Chagas disease and on the current transfusion risk.

Methods: The National Blood Centre conducted a survey on preventive measures for Chagas disease in the years 2020-2021.

Results: Survey results are broadly representative of the national situation; out of 24,269 tested donors, only 15 donors were confirmed positive (0.4 out of 100,000 donors). This rate is lower than the number of positive donors (72/100,000) for transfusion transmissible infections (HIV, HBV, HCV, and T. pallidum) in the same period. Furthermore, the number of T. cruzi positive blood donors is lower than the T. cruzi positive subjects in the general population.

Conclusions: In Italy, T. cruzi infection transfusion risk may be considered still very low, and this is confirmed by the absence of documented transfusion transmission.

Keywords: Chagas disease; Tripanosoma cruzi; blood transfusion safety; epidemiological surveillance; transfusion transmissible infection.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.