In July 2007 a formal horizon scanning system was set up by the NHSBT/HPA Epidemiology Unit in order to identify emerging infection reports of relevance to blood donation safety in the UK.
A wide variety of published sources are scanned by the NHSBT/HPA Epidemiology Unit for emerging infection items that could be relevant to blood donation. Of particular interest are updates on West Nile virus, malaria, chikungunya, dengue, tick-borne encephalitis, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, pandemic and avian influenza. During 2011, as in 2010, West Nile virus continued to be closely monitored as more outbreaks throughout Europe were reported. An outbreak of locally acquired Plasmodium vivax (malaria) in Greece was monitored for any indication of transmission to tourists.
Scanned sources include: monthly summaries from the Emerging Infections and Zoonoses Section/HPA Scientific Secretariat to the National Expert Panel on New and Emerging Infections (NEPNEI) at the HPA Colindale in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA); National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) clinical updates; outbreak and news alerts from ProMED and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB); peer reviewed literature. Further information is sought from the HPA Emerging Infections and Zoonoses Section or the Travel and Migrant Health Section where necessary.
Relevant items are collated on a monthly basis into a listing for the Chair of the UK Standing Advisory Committee on Transfusion Transmitted Infection (SACTTI) and the Joint UKBTS/HPA Professional Advisory Committee (JPAC). The report is also distributed to other NHSBT, Department of Health and HPA colleagues. Early warning communications or other reports that are deemed urgent are notified to the Chair of SACTTI as they arise.
These monthly emerging report listings are used to review the current status of infections and instigate further risk assessment which may lead to changes to the donor selection guidelines or other blood safety measures where necessary.
A sample of the report listing may be viewed here: Emerging Infection Listing Sample (Excel Spreadsheet, 70 KB).