As a former blood banker, I often take notice of the relationship between blood donation and infectious disease, a sensitivity that harks back to the AIDS era. A recent article noted that blood donations were being halted in parts of Rome because of an outbreak of Chikungunya (see: Outbreak of disease carried by mosquitoes halts blood donation in Rome), Below is an excerpt from it:
Italian health officials have banned residents across half of Rome from donating blood because of an outbreak of the painful, mosquito-borne illness Chikungunya. At least 17 people in southeastern Rome have been diagnosed with the virus since the end of August, and the local health authority decided to suspend blood donations in the affected areas to prevent accidental transmission.The ban covers some 1.2 million residents. Anyone who has visited the affected area of the capital since Aug. 25 should not give blood for 28 days. Chikungunya symptoms include high fever, joint and muscular pain, severe headaches, nausea and a rash. They normally surface within three to seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito and typically dissipate within a week. The virus is not deadly, but there is no vaccine.The disease is typically found in tropical areas and used to be entirely absent from Italy. However, a mosquito which transmits Chikungunya, the Tiger Mosquito, first appeared in the country in the 1990s and is now commonplace, and there was an outbreak of the virus around the city of Ravenna in 2007.
Here are some additional facts about Chikungunya (see: Chikungunya: Symptoms):
- Most people infected with Chikungunya virus will develop some symptoms.
- Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
- The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain.
- Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
- Chikungunya disease does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling.
- Most patients feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may persist for months.
- People at risk for more severe disease include newborns infected around the time of birth, older adults (≥65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.
- Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
When I first read this article, I assumed that the outbreak in Rome was due to travelers or immigrants to Rome from areas where Chikungunya is endemic (see image below). However, Italy and Spain are already endemic areas as is the U.S., Mexico, and all of South America (see: Chikungunya virus in the United States).`