Asymptomatic Leishmania infection in blood donors from a major blood bank in Northeastern Brazil: a cross-sectional study


ABSTRACT This study has estimated the risk of Leishmania transmission via blood transfusion in one of the largest blood banks in Northeastern Brazil, where visceral leishmaniasis is endemic. Five hundred blood samples from donors were tested for circulating Leishmania spp. DNA by real-time PCR. Positive samples were tested by a species-specific conventional PCR targeting Leishmania infantum . Overall, 6.2% (95% CI: 4.1–8.3%) of the samples carried Leishmania DNA and in one sample the species was confirmed as L. infantum . No statistically significant differences were found in relation to gender, sex, education level, incomeas well as the place of residence between positive and negative blood donors. Our results confirm the presence of asymptomatic Leishmania carriers among blood donors in a large blood bank in Northeastern Brazil. Considering the studied population, we estimate that for every 1,000 blood donors screened, 41 to 83 will be positive for Leishmania DNA. This finding reinforces the urgent need for elaborating specific Blood bank guidelines to allow the early detection of asymptomatic Leishmania carriers among blood donors before their blood products are transfused to uninfected individuals.



Blood donors, Leishmania, Asymptomatic infection, Blood bank, Surveillance