Annals of Nigerian Medicine

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Blood transfusion malaria: A literature review

Jamilu Abdullahi Faruk


Asymptomatic malaria parasitemia has been documented in donor blood in West Africa. However, donated blood is not routinely screened for malaria parasites (MPs). A literature search was conducted using PubMed and Google Scholar engines, with the search terms “malaria” and “transfusion.” The search results were perused and studies relevant to the subject matter and that available in full text were retrieved. The retrieved studies were then grouped, based on the type of study, into systematic reviews, original articles, and case reports. Commentaries and letters to editors were excluded from the study. Finally, the studies were synthesized based on their themes; detection of MPs in blood donors, studies on MPs in blood recipients, prevention of transfusion‑transmitted infections and malaria. In each category, studies from Nigeria and other malaria‑endemic African countries were analyzed first, then Asian studies, followed by European and American studies. From the reviewed literature, the overall occurrence of blood transfusion malaria in transfusion recipients is low despite the fact that the potential risk of transmission is quite high as evidenced by the large proportion of blood donors harboring MPs. While several methods are being utilized to reduce the risk of transmission of transfusion malaria, their cost‑effectiveness limits wide‑range application. However, the riboflavin‑ultraviolet light‑based parasite reduction system has the potential to revolutionize the incidence of transfusion‑transmitted malaria. Therefore, malaria control and eradication interventions need to be strengthened to reduce the rate of infection in the potential blood donors.

Keywords: Malaria, transfusion, transfusion-transmitted
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