Transfusion-transmitted human T-lymphotropic virus Type i infection in a United States military emergency whole blood transfusion recipient in Afghanistan, 2010

Shilpa Hakre*, Mark M. Manak, Clinton K. Murray, Kenneth W. Davis, Meera Bose, Aaron J. Harding, Peter R. Maas, Linda L. Jagodzinski, Jerome H. Kim, Nelson L. Michael, Francisco J. Rentas, Sheila A. Peel, Paul T. Scott, Sodsai Tovanabutra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background The United States introduced human T-lymphotropic virus Type I (HTLV-I) screening of blood donors in 1988. The US military uses freshly collected blood products for life-threatening injuries when available stored blood components in theater have been exhausted or when these components are unsuccessful for resuscitation. These donors are screened after donation by the Department of Defense (DoD) retrospective testing program. All recipients of blood collected in combat are tested according to policy soon after and at 3, 6, and 12 months after transfusion. Case Report A 31-year-old US Army soldier tested positive for HTLV-I 44 days after receipt of emergency blood transfusions for severe improvised explosive device blast injuries. One donor's unit tested HTLV-I positive on the DoD-mandated retrospective testing. Both the donor and the recipient tested reactive with enzyme immunoassay and supplemental confirmation by HTLV-I Western blot. The donor and recipient reported no major risk factors for HTLV-I. Phylogenetic analysis of HTLV-I sequences indicated Cosmopolitan subtype, Subgroup B infections. Comparison of long terminal repeat and env sequences revealed molecular genetic linkage of the viruses from the donor and recipient. Conclusion This case is the first report of transfusion transmission of HTLV-I in the US military during combat operations. The emergency fresh whole blood policy enabled both the donor and the recipient to be notified of their HTLV-I infection. While difficult in combat, predonation screening of potential emergency blood donors with Food and Drug Administration-mandated infectious disease testing as stated by the DoD Health Affairs policy should be the goal of every facility engaged with emergency blood collection in theater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2176-2182
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


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