Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 21, 2008

Incidence of bacterial transmission and transfusion reactions by blood components

Gabriele Walther-Wenke


Successful reduction of the risk of viral transmission via blood components has focused attention on the risk of transfusion-associated bacterial sepsis. The incidence of transfusion reactions due to bacteria is currently estimated at between 1 per 100,000 and 1 per 1,000,000 units in the case of packed red blood cells and between 1 per 900 and 1 per 100,000 units in the case of platelet concentrates. For autologous transfusion, only isolated case reports are available which do not permit a quantitative risk assessment. No reliable data on the risk of morbidity and mortality due to transfusion-associated bacterial infection are available for Germany at present. As platelet concentrates provide more favourable conditions for bacterial growth by virtue of being stored at room temperature, these blood components are thought to bear a considerably greater risk of bacterial contamination than red blood cells. The rate of contamination of platelet concentrates is cited at between 0.02% and 1.2%, depending on the production and bacterial culture techniques used, whereas the rate for packed red blood cells is between 0.1% and 0.2%. Risk reduction strategies include careful selection of blood donors, optimisation of donation and production techniques, and detection of bacteria in samples of blood components prior to transfusion. Also of importance for patient safety are quality assurance measures in the preparation for transfusion, in measures of patient monitoring, and investigation of transfusion reactions.

Clin Chem Lab Med 2008;46:919–25.

Corresponding author: Dr. Gabriele Walther-Wenke, DRK-Blutspendedienst West GmbH, Zentrum für Transfusionsmedizin Münster, Sperlichstraße 15, 48151 Münster, Germany Phone: +49-251-709-208, Fax: +49-251-709-119,

Published Online: 2008-04-21
Published in Print: 2008-07-01

©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York