Owing to the low incidence of hepatitis B in Denmark, screening of blood donors for HBsAg has mostly been done by immunoelectroosmophoresis (IEOP). The purpose of the present study was to carry out a cost-effectiveness analysis prior to the introduction of a third-generation test for HBsAg in Danish blood donors. The analysis was performed on data from a subsequent screening of 48 750 blood units by radioimmunoassay (RIA) 3 weeks after donation. The RIA-pos., IEOP-neg. blood donors identified in the study were evaluated by a follow-up examination, and the recipients of RIA-pos., IEOP-neg. blood units were monitored for up to 9 months as to the development of acute hepatitis B. The study shows that the estimated cost for each prevented case of transfusion-associated hepatitis B in Denmark is US$ 1100 when screening donors not previously tested by a third-generation technique, and US$ 240 000 when screening donors tested before by this technique.
Two cases of transfusion-related Serratia marcescens bacteremia prompted extensive epidemiologic investigations in three independent hospitals. Test tubes and plasma from donors whose blood was drawn into bags from a single production batch were cultured. Analysis of the ribotype of S. marcescens isolates was performed. For comparison, a strain from the production plant and eight other, unrelated bacteremia isolates were examined. In addition, a retrospective national survey was carried out. S. marcescens was cultured from 11 (0.73%) of 1515 blood units, and an additional (third) bacteremic patient was identified. The clinical isolates from three patients, the three units of blood transfused, and the plant-derived strain shared a unique ribotype. The incident is interpreted as a sporadic, bacterial contamination of blood bags with the S. marcescens epidemic strain, occurring during the manufacturing or packaging. A similar incident has not previously been reported. Attention is drawn to the possibility of significant contamination during the complex production of multiple-bag blood collection systems. Guidelines for improved registration and handling of transfusion complications in wards are suggested. Manufacturers should be encouraged to provide blood packs with sterile exteriors, in appropriate, single, outer packages.
The profit to be gained by testing Danish blood donors for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) with a third generation technique instead of the currently used immunoelectrophoresis was investigated by additional screening of 48 750 blood units by radioimmunoassay three weeks after donation. Twenty nine units were positive for HBsAg on radioimmunoassay (0.059%). Only six of these were found by immunoelectrophoresis (0.012%). Most of the 23 donors positive on radioimmunoassay and negative on immunoelectrophoresis were healthy carriers of HBsAg (20) or had asymptomatic chronic liver disease (two). One donor had acute hepatitis B. Fifteen of the 23 blood units were transfused. The 15 recipients were monitored biochemically and serologically for up to nine months. One recipient developed fulminant hepatitis B, three developed acute hepatitis B, and one became a healthy carrier of HBsAg. All these patients had received blood from healthy carriers of HBsAg. Two recipients were immunised against HBsAg, and in one patient no seroconversion was observed. The remaining recipients died soon after transfusion or were protected by antibodies to HBsAg that had been present before the transfusion. Testing of Danish blood donors using a third generation technique identified a substantial number of donors positive for HBsAg overlooked by immunoelectrophoresis. Most of these donors were healthy carriers of HBsAg. Blood taken from such carriers is highly infectious when transfused, probably because of the large amount of material transmitted.