An influx of new infectious agents is making it increasingly difficult to protect the blood supply in the U.S. As people are travelling more, to farther reaches around the world than ever before, things are getting complicated.
Last year 68 new infectious agents were identified. And that's just 68 new infectious agents that we know about. It's anyone's guess as to how many more unknowns may be sneaking into the blood supply.
It's not as easy as it used to be to donate blood. Would-be donors must answer a barrage of questions. They won't be allowed to donate blood if they've lived in Europe since 1980 because of the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. They will be rejected for visiting areas known for malaria.
The search for more methods of protecting the blood supply is ongoing.
" 'We learned from HIV that we have to react aggressively to every next potential threat,' says Michael Busch, director of the Blood Systems Research Institute in San Francisco and a member of a federally funded group studying whether the retrovirus XMRV, which has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, poses a threat to the blood supply."