Every reasonable effort should be made to screen potential blood donors for infectious diseases to ensure a safe transfusion. Donors should be tested to identify diseases that meet the following criteria: The disease agent is documented to cause disease in the recipient; the disease may be subclinical, resulting in an infected animal inadvertently being used as a donor; the disease can be cultured from the blood of an infected animal; and the disease in a recipient is severe or difficult to treat. For dogs, the following diseases meet these criteria: babesiosis, leishmaniasis, Ehrlichia canis infection, and brucellosis. For cats, the diseases that meet the criteria are feline leukemia virus infection, feline immunodeficiency infection, and hemoplasmosis. The panel was divided on its recommendation for testing for feline bartonellosis. Although it was considered ideal to have a Bartonella-free donor, the pathogenesis and epidemiology of the disease led to a difference of opinion on whether to categorize bartonellosis as "recommended" or "conditional." The panel did recognize that geographic and breed restrictions may apply to some diseases, and this is discussed in detail. Diseases for which testing was conditionally recommended were those in which experimental but not clinical transmission via transfusion was documented or the disease does not represent a threat to most recipients or is easily cleared. For dogs, these diseases included anaplasmosis, trypanosomiasis, and bartonellosis. For cats, these diseases included cytauxzoonosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, neorickettsiosis, and bartonellosis. Canine and feline heartworm were not included in the recommendations because they did not meet the criteria for infectious diseases that can be transmitted via transfusion, but testing was recommended for the health of the donor. Finally, the authors summarized general recommendations, including donor selection and care.

COMMENTARY: This consensus statement is important for any practitioner who uses blood products, whether they are collected in-house or purchased externally. Appropriate screening and handling of blood components are critical not only for maximizing patient safety but also for medico-legal considerations.

Canine and feline blood donor screening for infectious disease. Wardrop KJ, Reine N, Birkenheuer A, et al. J VET INTERN MED 19:135-142, 2005.