West Nile Virus in the regions bordering Eastern Ontario
takes additional precautionary measures to protect blood supplies
Montréal, August 8, 2005—After Canadian Blood Services
identified West Nile Virus (WNV) in two blood donations collected in
Eastern Ontario, Héma-Québec has decided to take additional
precautionary measures to protect blood donations collected during
blood drives held mainly in the Outaouais region.
These measures are part of its action plan, adopted a few months ago,
to counter the effects of WNV on blood supply. Once a donation is confirmed
to have tested positive for WNV, Héma-Québec plans to
individually screen each blood sample collected in the regions most
affected by WNV, as determined by regional public health directorates
or the prevalence of donors infected by WNV.
To optimize the safety of its blood supply, Héma-Québec
will therefore analyze individual blood samples collected during drives
held over the coming days in areas bordering the Ottawa region and
Eastern Ontario. As provided for in its action plan, in the case where
no positive cases are detected in this area during a two-week period,
Héma-Québec will resume its pooled sample screening method.
Generally used by Canadian Blood Services and other blood suppliers
in North America, this procedure consists of combining the samples
of six donors and carrying out a screening test on the sample pool.
Enough blood can be quickly and efficiently analyzed using this procedure
to meet the demand for a safe blood supply. If a sample pool is found
to be WNV-positive, each donation from that pool is screened individually
to find which is infected. The infected blood will then be destroyed
and the blood components at issue that have not yet been transfused
will be withdrawn from circulation. The corresponding donor will be
informed of his or her exclusion for a period of 56 days and the infection
declared to public health authorities.
According to epidemiological data on the activity of the virus, its
proximity to territories where blood drives will be held and its prevalence
among blood donors in the Ottawa region and Eastern Ontario, Héma-Québec
is taking all available measures to ensure the safety of its blood
product supplies. “We are taking these protective measures against
WNV to provide patients with blood products of the highest possible
quality. Also, during the summer season, each blood donation is vital
because it can help save up to four lives,” stated Dr. Francine
Décary, President and Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec.
Héma-Québec continually screens all blood donations
to detect possible cases of the West Nile Virus (WNV). Furthermore,
between June 1 and November 30 each year, pooled blood samples are
screened. A special telephone line—1 877 VNO-HÉMA (1 877
866-4362)—has been set up for people with questions about the
effects of WNV on blood.
Since the appearance of WNV in Québec and Canada, Héma-Québec
monitors the situation on a continual basis and works with public health
officials as well as with its partner Canadian Blood Services. It should
also be noted that donors cannot contract WNV by giving blood. It is
therefore important for Quebeckers to continue to give blood generously
at the blood drives organized throughout Québec.
Since its inception in September 1998, Héma-Québec’s
mission has been to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe,
optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and cord blood
to meet the needs of all Quebeckers; and to provide and develop expertise,
along with specialized and innovative services and products in the
fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.
This summer, bring good habits to life. Give blood. Give life.
Additional notes: Consequently, during the week of August 8, 2005,
all blood collected in Hudson, Les Cèdres, Hull and Campbell’s
Bay, as well as all blood collected during the week of August 15 in
Gatineau, La Pêche and Saint-Clet will be individually sampled.
To find out where to give blood in Québec, please visit Héma-Québec’s
Web site at www.hema-quebec.qc.ca.