No significant impact of chikungunya on blood supply, says ministryTuesday, September 30, 2014
BY ANIKA RICHARDS Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
AMIDST an uphill struggle to meet the yearly target of 55,000 units of blood to adequately meet the country's needs, concerns have been raised about the possible effects of the rapidly spreading chikungunya virus on the country's blood supply.
The Jamaica Observer learnt last week that a planned blood drive, which was expected to increase the National Blood Transfusion Service's yield, had to be cancelled.
Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Kevin Harvey yesterday told the Observer that two blood drives were, in fact, cancelled but insisted that chikungunya has not significantly affected the Blood Bank's effort to collect blood.
"...Two blood drives have been cancelled because of someone falling ill, but there is nothing to suggest that it (chikungunya) has impacted significantly on the blood collected," Dr Harvey said.
Questioned about the possible implications of collecting blood from someone with the chikungunya virus, the acting permanent secretary said once a potential donor is ill, no blood is collected from that individual.
Blood donor organiser Igol Allen told the Observer that, as a precautionary measure, if a potential donor reports that he may have contracted the virus, he is given a one-month deferral.
"The safety of the blood collected is of utmost importance to the Blood Bank, so whether it is the onset of chikungunya or any other illness, people are given a deferral, which is a time period before which they can attempt to donate blood," said Allen, adding that the deferral time for different conditions vary.
"Our concern is not only for those receiving blood, but also for those donating blood," Allen said.
The first confirmed case of chikungunya reared its head on July 17, and since then, the official count has reached 35. This total includes the numbers that have been officially reported to the Ministry of Health, but reports from communities and private physicians across the island about people presenting with fever, joint pain and rash -- all symptoms of the mosquito-borne virus -- keep increasing.
Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson, in his national broadcast Sunday night, said that his ministry continues to investigate as it has an interest in determining all the types of viruses that are circulating.