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Canadian Blood Services prevents second West Nile Virus unit from entering blood system
Ottawa woman tests positive for WNV, Canadian Blood Services continues with added precautions in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario Public Health regions

Ottawa, August 4, 2005 – A unit of blood donated from a resident of Ottawa has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). The positive WNV unit is the second detected by Canadian Blood Services in 2005. The first positive WNV unit was detected in an Eastern Ontario donor in late July.

The unit of blood was donated in Ottawa on August 2, 2005. A sample taken from the donated blood tested positive at Canadian Blood Services' West Nile Virus laboratory in Toronto.

The donor and officials from the Ottawa Public Health Unit have been notified of the test results. The unit of donated blood has been withdrawn from inventory and was not shipped to a hospital for transfusion. The blood donor will not be eligible to donate again for 56 days.

Because of the positive test result, Canadian Blood Services will continue with added precautions against West Nile Virus (WNV) in the Ottawa and Eastern Ontario Health Unit regions. Beginning with collections from July 27, blood donations collected at all donor clinics held in the Ottawa and Eastern Ontario Health Units are being single-unit tested (each individual unit is tested), rather than mini-pool tested (six units are pooled prior to testing).

Single-unit testing is believed to be able to identify extremely low levels of virus in blood donations from people who have just become infected. Mini-pool testing will continue on all blood donations in regions across the country. The decision to move to single-unit testing in the Ottawa and Eastern Ontario Health Units is part of our flexible approach to quickly respond when increased WNV risk is identified in any given community and is a highly precautionary measure. Single-unit testing will cease in the two health units when no new positive donors are reported in the regions for a two-week period.

Canadian Blood Services has carried out WNV testing on every blood donation since July 1, 2003. Between then and Aug. 1 of this year, nearly 2 million blood donations have been tested for WNV. Of these, 14 donations confirmed during the summer and fall of 2003, were found to contain the virus. The infected donations were withdrawn and the donors were deferred from giving blood again for 56 days. No WNV infected donations were found in 2004. The positive WNV unit announced today, marks the second for 2005. There have been no known cases of transfusion-related WNV in Canada since testing began in July 2003.

Canadian Blood Services is encouraging Canadians to continue donating blood since the need never stops and is particularly challenging during the summer months. A greater risk than West Nile Virus is that Canadians will not continue to donate and there will be a blood shortage.

Call 1-888-2 DONATE to make an appointment.

About Canadian Blood Services
Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec and oversees the country's Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Canadian Blood Services operates 41 permanent collection sites and more than 19,000 donor clinics annually. The Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system. For more information, please visit our Web site at


For further information, please contact:
Derek Mellon
Media Room Relations Manager
Canadian Blood Services
613 739 2177

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