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CDC rules out blood transfusions as cause of dengue fever

CDC rules out blood transfusions as cause of dengue fever

Blood transfusions have been ruled out as the cause of dengue fever cases in this year's epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Taiwan Blood Services Foundation said Monday.

CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw said five people have contracted dengue fever after receiving blood transfusions during the current outbreak, but tests showed the disease was not transmitted through the transfusions.

Chou was responding to a front-page story in the United Daily News on Monday, which cited a study by a National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) research team in reporting concerns that dengue fever was being transmitted through blood transfusions.

The team, led by NCKU associate professor Perng Guey-chuen, tested the blood of more than 400 workers in a factory in Tainan and found antigens from the dengue virus in 7 percent of them, meaning they had contracted the virus but showed no symptoms, the newspaper said.

The dengue virus can survive in the human body for up to six months, the research team noted in the report, and expressed concerns that donated blood sent from southern Taiwan to the north could spread the disease.

Chou said, however, that transmission of the dengue virus through a blood transfusion is only possible if the blood was donated by a dengue fever patient between one day before and five days after developing a fever.

No country tests blood donors for dengue viruses, but the CDC has commissioned Kaohsiung Medical University to study the percentage of dengue virus carriers in Taiwan until the end of 2016 before evaluating the need to change blood donation rules, Chou added.

Taiwan Blood Services Foundation chief executive officer Wei Sheng-tang said, meanwhile, that its operations in Tainan and Kaohsiung, the hardest-hit areas in this year's outbreak, do not allow people with a fever to donate blood.

The foundation also has asked dengue fever patients not to give blood for at least one month after they have recovered from the disease, Wei said.

According to Wei, blood donations in Tainan dropped 15 percent during the outbreak, and the foundation had to send blood to southern Taiwan, so the concerns about the spread of dengue fever cited in the newspaper report were unfounded.

As of Sunday, Taiwan had reported 41,811 confirmed dengue fever cases since May. Around 96 percent of the patients have recovered, but 197 patients have died, according to the CDC.

The southern cities of Tainan and Kaohsiung have recorded 22,721 and 18,224 cases, respectively, since May, both higher than the previous record for cases in the country as a whole, set last year at 15,732 cases. (By Lung Pei-ning and Kay Liu)

Updated : 2021-09-25 03:32 GMT+08:00