Ebola and Blood Safety
Some people in the US who rely on blood and blood products to maintain their health have raised concerns about blood safety related to Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola). CDC has systems in place to monitor blood safety.
The safety of blood products is important for people with blood disorders such as hemophilia. Whether the need for blood is the result of an injury, a chronic medical need, or treatment of a blood disorder, blood and all of its components are quite literally essential parts of life.
Improvements in donor and blood screening have greatly reduced the risk of transmitting disease through blood and blood products. However, transfusion-related infections with known viruses continue to occur, and new and emerging viruses pose potential new threats to the safety of the blood supply. Therefore, monitoring the safety of blood and blood products in the people who use them is a key public health priority.
A Public Health Approach
The availability of safe blood and blood products is an important public health issue. We currently monitor blood product safety through the Registry for Bleeding Disorders Surveillance, a component of Community Counts.
Through the Registry for Bleeding Disorders Surveillance, we monitor treatment-related complications in people that are more routinely exposed to blood and blood products. We screen for bloodborne infections, such as hepatitis and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). Through this monitoring system, we can also document potential risk factors for infectious diseases among people who have received blood products used to treat bleeding episodes and identify adverse reactions to blood products.
CDC’s Serum Bank
Blood samples from participating HTCs are sent to the CDC Serum Bank in Lawrenceville, Georgia. A portion of the blood sample is sent to the Division of Blood Disorders laboratory to test for infectious diseases. The remainder is frozen and stored at the serum bank for future blood safety studies or outbreak investigations.
For example, samples from the serum bank were used in 2004 to assess exposure to parvovirus B19 (a virus that causes a common childhood illness) among young children with hemophilia who received clotting factor products made from donated blood. In that study, young children with hemophilia who had been treated with these products were more likely to have had the infection, suggesting that the virus was transmitted in the product. Since that time, additional steps have been taken in the manufacturing process of these products to reduce this type of risk. [Read parvovirus article summary]
Blood Safety Collaborations
CDC collaborates with its federal partners in blood safety. CDC works closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for regulating blood and blood products. CDC participates in a variety of blood safety workgroups across federal agencies, such as Health and Human Services (HHS) Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability (ACBTSA); and workgroups specific to pathogens, such as the Tickborne Working Group. In addition, CDC through the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases coordinates blood-related activities, including investigations, surveillance, research, policy making, strategic planning, and communication for Blood Safety between divisions.
- Page last reviewed: February 6, 2017
- Page last updated: February 27, 2017
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