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Tick-Borne Disease May Be Linked to Transfusions

CDC Reports Rare Cases of Babesiosis From Blood Transfusions

Development of a Screening Test continued...

"We are working with companies to try to help them get an FDA-approved test," says Richard Benjamin, MD, PhD. Benjamin is the chief medical officer of the American Red Cross Biomedical Services. He was not involved in the CDC report. "This paper is one way to get industry more focused on this issue."

Benjamin echoes Herwaldt's concerns about the significance of the problem. He says the report makes clear that the extent of known cases had been previously underreported.

"The big surprise in the paper is the numbers," he says. "Previously, if you'd asked me, I would have said 70 to 100. The report documents about twice as many."

The actual number of cases that occur in a given year is unknown. The disease, even in cases that cause severe symptoms, are often missed or misdiagnosed. As Herwaldt and her colleagues write, the 162 cases in the report "undoubtedly represent a fraction of those that occurred."

"Sufficient cases have been documented to demand a response," Benjamin says.

"If you have a medical condition that requires a blood transfusion," he says. "I would not be afraid. This is not HIV."

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