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PERSIAN GULF veterans are no longer banned from donating blood, as of this month.
Fear that Leishmania tropica, a parasite transmitted by sand flea (Phlebotomus papatasi) bites, could be spread through transfusions prompted the November 12,1991, ban. Cutaneous leishmaniasis remained a concern during large-scale 1990 and 1991 US military operations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq (JAMA. 1991;265:435,439-440) and now is listed by the US Army Medical Research and Development Command as a possible health threat to US troops in Somalia.
No Transfusion Transmission
However, "since there has been no documented case of transfusion-transmitted L tropica [during the nearly 14 months of the ban], and after a careful review of current information, American blood banks are being advised to drop the ban on blood donations from those individuals who were in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield/Storm," says Arthur J. Silvergleid, MD, president, American Association of Blood Banks. The
Gunby P. Desert Storm Veterans Now May Donate Blood; Others Call for Discussion of Donor Tests. JAMA. 1993;269(4):451–452. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500040013006
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