March 17, 2016

ACVIM Releases Consensus Statement on Blood Donor Screening for Blood-Borne Pathogens

The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) recently published an updated consensus statement on screening canine and feline blood donors for blood-borne pathogens.
By Laurie Anne Walden, DVM, ELS
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) recently published an updated consensus statement on screening canine and feline blood donors for blood-borne pathogens.
 
ACVIM consensus statements “provide the veterinary community with up-to-date information on the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of clinically important animal diseases,” according to the ACVIM website.
 
The updated statement on blood donor screening was presented at the ACVIM Forum in June 2015 and published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in January 2016. The consensus panel divided canine and feline pathogens into 3 categories: 
  1. Vector-borne pathogens for which testing is recommended
  2. Non–vector-borne pathogens for which testing is recommended
  3. Other pathogens for which testing is not recommended 
A pathogen was recommended for testing if it met 3 of the following criteria: 
  • Has caused documented clinical infection in blood transfusion recipients
  • May produce subclinical infection that can cause carriers to be misidentified as healthy donors
  • Can be detected in the blood of an infected dog or cat by culture or molecular techniques
  • Can cause infection that is potentially life-threatening and difficult to eliminate with antimicrobial therapy in blood donor recipients 
The panel classified screening standards as either optimal or minimal, taking into consideration differences in geographical location, donor breed, donor environment, and the low availability and high cost of some tests. Testing under optimal standards includes more pathogens and screening tests than does testing under minimal standards. Infectious agents recommended for screening under minimal standards are members of the following genera (plus viruses): 
  • Dogs: Anaplasma, Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Leishmania, Mycoplasma
  • Cats: Anaplasma, Bartonella, Mycoplasma, feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus 
The consensus statement includes a discussion of the usefulness and limitations of light microscopy, blood culture, serum antibody and antigen tests, and polymerase chain reaction assays as screening tests for blood-borne pathogens. The authors note that “for some pathogens, a combination of both serological and organism demonstration techniques may be required to maximize diagnosis of infection.”
 
Although the authors acknowledge that screening individual blood units would be ideal, they instead recommend screening blood donor animals at least once a year—more often for organisms in endemic areas and for donors with potential exposure to risk factors like ticks. The consensus statement also includes detailed recommendations for donor selection and management.
 

Dr. Laurie Anne Walden received her doctorate in veterinary medicine from North Carolina State University in 1994. After an internship at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, she returned to North Carolina, where she has been in companion animal general practice for over 20 years. Dr. Walden is also a board-certified Editor in the Life Sciences and owner of Walden Medical Writing.


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