Frequency, viral loads, and serotype identification of enterovirus infections in Scottish blood donors.
Welch J., Maclaran K., Jordan T., Simmonds P.
BACKGROUND: Enteroviruses are non-enveloped, frequently pathogenic RNA viruses infecting humans. Infection is potentially transmissible through blood or blood component transfusion from donor in the viremic phase before seroconversion for antibody. To investigate the threat to blood safety from enteroviruses, a large-scale survey of frequency and levels of viremia in blood donors was conducted. STUDY DESIGNS AND METHODS: Blood donations from Scotland over a period of 22 calendar months were screened for enterovirus RNA sequences by PCR. Positive samples were quantified, and serotypes were identified by nucleotide sequencing of VP1. RESULTS: From a total of 3658 pools of 95 donations tested, 73 samples that were enterovirus-positive were identified (corrected annual frequency 0.024% or 1 in 4000). The highest rates of viremia were in late summer months (e.g., 0.055%, 1 in 1800 in July) and lowest from January to May (0.009 and 0.012%). Viral loads ranged from 500 (the lower cutoff of the assay) to greater than 100,000 amplifiable enterovirus template copies per mL. Coxsackievirus A16, echoviruses 11 and 30, and enterovirus 71 were most often identified. CONCLUSIONS: The detection of enterovirus-positive blood units indicates the potential for enteroviral transmission by blood components. Although the infrastructure established for PCR-based screening for HCV RNA would allow parallel screening for enteroviruses, any decision concerning donor testing would require further information on the outcome of transfusion-acquired enterovirus infections.