Risk of transmission of Ebola virus via donated blood and other substances of human origin in the EU

technical report
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Citation Link

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Risk of transmission of Ebola virus via donated blood and other substances of human origin in the EU, 6 October 2014. Stockholm: ECDC; 2014.

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​The epidemic of Ebola virus disease (Zaïre ebolavirus) has increased the risk of Ebola virus transmission via donated blood and blood components, cells, tissues and organs.  This technical report assesses the risk of Ebola virus transmission through substances of human origin and offers guidelines on the safety of donations where the potential donors are travellers returning from Ebola-affected countries, people exposed to Ebola virus or patients who have recovered from the disease. 

Executive summary

The epidemic of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa in 2014 has increased the risk of Ebola virus transmission via donated blood and blood components, cells, tissues and organs (substances of human origin - SoHO). There are no specific EU regulations or recommendations for the safety of SoHO donated by patients who have recovered from EVD; people exposed to Ebola virus; or people who have visited or reside in EVD-affected areas.

Ebola virus transmissions through donated blood, tissues or organs have not been described. Asymptomatic replicative infections with Ebola virus have been described [1,2].  Travellers from Ebola-affected countries are deferred for donation because malaria-risk countries overlap with the current Ebola-risk countries in Africa [3]. However, there is a need for specific guidelines to maintain the safety of SoHO donation by people who have been exposed to Ebola virus. There is a possibility that the current outbreaks in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo will spread to areas where there is no malaria risk.