Sunday, May 05, 2013

Blood, glorious blood (Tick Season is Upon Us)

Have you ever had sexual contact with anyone who was born in, or lived in Africa?
If so, you probably cannot give blood in America.

In the past three years have you been outside the United States?
Maybe you cannot give blood.

Notice the racial profiling here:
"To increase protection of the U.S. blood supply, we continue to recommend that you defer blood and plasma donors who have traveled or resided in the U.K. for a cumulative period of three or more months from the beginning of 1980 through the end of 1996."

Why is this? Because, as of March 2010, 216 people (ever) have been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, 169 of whom lived in the U.K.

There is no exemption for British vegetarians. That interests me.

Conversely, when it comes to a much more quickly devastating blood-borne illness known as "Texas cattle fever" and also as "Nantucket fever", there are no blanket restrictions on blood donating based on people who have lived in or visited Texas or Massachussetts. 

The questionnaire merely asks "Have you ever had babesiosis?"
I cannot help wondering how many would-be blood donors know what babesiosis is, let alone whether or not they have ever had it. Also, what if they know they have had piroplasmosis, but the questionnaire does not ask about piroplasmosis?

According to a 2011 article in DISCOVERY, over the last 30 years, blood transfusions caused at least 159 cases of babesiosis, twenty-eight of whom died soon after their blood transfusions.

Also, interestingly "Currently, no licensed tests for screening U.S. blood donors for evidence of Babesia infection are available. Persons who test positive for Babesia infection should be advised to refrain indefinitely from donating blood."

You get babesiosis from deer ticks. The worst part of the year for being attacked by ticks and also by mosquitoes is May, June, July. Break out the repellant.

For my Vampire-Romance writing colleagues....  Does DEET repel your vampires? 

Here's a scan of the Blood Donor History Questionnaire. It seems like rich source material for Vamp Writers. What do you think? Alas, though, there is no question pertaining to vampirism or cannibalism.

Interesting questions!

Babesia is a protozoan parasite of which Babesia microti and Babesia divergens are the two species most frequently found to infect humans. Infections from other species of Babesia have been documented in humans, but are not regularly seen. Babesiosis is also known as piroplasmosis. Due to historical misclassifications, this protozoan was labeled with many names that are no longer used. Common names of the disease include Texas cattle fever, redwater fever, tick fever, and Nantucket fever.

The seven states with well-established foci of zoonotic transmission (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) are referred to as Babesia microti–endemic states

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I've often been rather bemused by the blood donor questionnaire. I figure if I've never heard of a disease, I've certainly never had it. Having gone through the process many times, I just automatically say "no" to each question practically before it's out of the technician's mouth.

    For my vampires, I use the assumption that they can't be infected by human diseases or act as carriers. But they still avoid sick donors because of the "off" taste.