Rarely is West Nile virus (WNV) transmitted in blood transfusions. But a case last year in Colorado represents a first: donated blood in a minipool of 6 donations tested positive for WNV, but results were negative when each donation was tested individually. The blood was released back into the supply, but a patient with non-Hodgkin lymphoma died after receiving a unit of platelets from the minipool.
The man was hospitalized in August 2012 for chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant. Screening tests he received for infections, including WNV nucleic acid testing, had negative results. Eighteen days after he was hospitalized, the man developed gastrointestinal symptoms; fever and hypotension developed 10 days later. The next day, he had altered mental status, somnolence, and respiratory failure. He was sedated and connected to a mechanical ventilator, which precluded a full neurological assessment.
One Death Linked With Donor Blood That Got Past West Nile Virus Tests. JAMA. 2013;310(13):1332. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277684