Blood Donor Screening

The U.S. blood supply is kept as safe as possible from infectious diseases, including malaria, through strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) screening guidelines for accepting or deferring donors who have been in malaria-endemic areas. Because of these control measures, malaria transmitted through blood transfusion is very rare in the United States and occurs at a rate of less than one per one million units of blood transfused.

FDA Screening Guidelines

FDA’s Recommendations to Reduce the Risk of Transfusion-Transmitted Malaria for blood banks include

  • Most travelers to an area with malaria cannot donate blood for three (3) months after their return (previously one year).
  • Former residents of areas where malaria is present cannot donate blood for three (3) years.
  • People diagnosed with malaria cannot donate blood for three (3) years after treatment, during which time they must have remained free of symptoms of malaria.

CDC Malaria Transmission Information

CDC receives information from multiple sources about the parts of the world where malaria transmission occurs. For some countries there is detailed information, and for others there is considerably less detail. If CDC has only received information about a country which did not provide details about the presence of malaria for specific cities, or towns, then we are not able to provide additional information about the probability of malaria transmission for those cities or towns. Likewise, if someone traveled between two nonendemic areas through an area where malaria occurs, CDC is unable to calculate a probability of infection in areas transited for that individual traveler. Based on information about where malaria transmission occurs provided by CDC, blood collection centers can assess the risk of malaria exposure in potential blood donors.

Additionally, the probability of malaria infection may vary for an individual traveler depending on the amount of time that a person is in a malaria-endemic area, whether they use insect repellent, and take an antimalarial drug, as well as external factors, such as the presence of mosquitoes, altitude, and the climate at the time of travel in some cases.

CDC’s Yellow Book

All of the available information about malaria risk by country is published in the CDC textbook Health Information for International Travel  (the “Yellow Book”) and in a table format in the book’s country-specific pages.