For some, donating blood leads to West Nile diagnosis

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by Jeremy Desel/ KHOU 11

Belo Affiliate

Posted on September 6, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 6 at 2:11 PM

HOUSTON--Nearly 20 people in the Houston area and almost 90 nationwide have been diagnosed with West Nile Virus after giving blood.

"We found our first donor June 15th and we don’t know how long it is going to last," said Dr. Susan Rossmann of the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.

West Nile Virus can be tough to spot because more than 80-percent of people that have it never have symptoms. Some find out from the blood center.

"They either say ‘Oh, that is surprising because I feel fine.’ Or some say ‘Oh that might be why I have felt kind of bad the last few days’ or ‘I have had a headache,’" Dr. Rossmann said.

There are no cases where blood infected with West Nile has made it into the blood supply and there is no risk to donate.

The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has been testing for West Nile in the blood supply since 2003. It is one of 14 tests run on every blood donation.

There are more risks every day. This is the peak of the season with 20 new West Nile cases in Harris County in the last 10 days.

There are also new neighborhoods with West Nile positive mosquitoes popping up.

Whether in the neighborhood on an evening stroll, or in the blood bank, prevention is the best medicine.

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