Project leader: Prof Hans Zaaijer MD PhD
The transmission of classical blood-borne infections is largely prevented by donor selection, donor screening, and the removal and inactivation of infectious agents. A small residual risk remains because in some of these infections the viremia is below the limit of detection.
Two additional types of residual risk exist. Some agents, which probably are present among our blood donors, may or may not cause infection via blood transfusion (e.g.: chronic infection with Coxiella burnetii, vCJD and HTLV). In addition, some agents which are known to cause infection through blood transfusion, may or may not be silently imported by traveling blood donors (e.g.: West Nile Virus).
Far-reaching safety measures have been implemented to decrease the three types of residual risk, although the cost-benefit ratios involved may be very high or unknown. The departmentt of Blood-borne Infections has started a study on the definition and management of the residual risk of transfusion-transmitted infections.