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July 16, 1997

Red Blood Cell Transfusions Contaminated With Yersinia enterocolitica—United States, 1991-1996, and Initiation of a National Study to Detect Bacteria-Associated Transfusion Reactions

JAMA. 1997;278(3):196-197. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550030036016

ALTHOUGH bacteremia and sepsis are infrequently reported complications of red blood cell (RBC) transfusion, receipt of transfused blood contaminated with bacterial pathogens may result in sepsis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and death. Such pathogens have included Yersinia enterocolitica and Pseudomonas fluorescens. From November 1985 through February 1991, a total of 11 cases of sepsis associated with receipt of transfused Y. entroocolitica-contaminated RBCs were reported in the United States.1-3 This report describes an additional 10 cases of Y. enterocolitica sepsis reported to CDC during March 1991-November 1996 in patients who received transfusions with contaminated RBCs and describes the development of a study to detect bacteria-associated reactions to transfusion of RBCs and other blood components.

Y. enterocolitica sepsis in a patient who had received a transfusion was defined as a reported transfusion reaction (e.g., fever, chills, or respiratory distress) and confirmation of Y. enterocolitica in the donor by titrating