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Organ Transplant Infections Targeted By New CDC Guidelines

Federal health officials have drafted new recommendations to prevent the transmission of infections and disease through organ transplant surgery. 

In the face of a number of high-profile organ transplant cases worldwide that have resulted in the spread of disease, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued draft public health service guidelines (pdf) on September 21, which are meant to prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C via organ transplant. The CDC is currently taking public comment on the draft guidance before issuing a final version.

The guidelines would apply to organ procurement organizations (OPOs), transplant centers, doctors nurses and other healthcare personnel tasked with testing and storing organs, as well as officials who develop, implement and evaluate infection prevention and control programs for OPOs and transplant centers.

The CDC has been working with state and federal agencies to update the guidance since 2008, which was originally written in 1994. The additions to the updated guidance include the following recommendations:

  • Screening donors for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
  • The use of more updated and modern screening tests for organs slated to be transplanted.
  • Use of a revised set of donor risk factors to give a better idea of the risks associated with the donor organs.

According to the CDC there were more than 200 cases of suspected HIV, Hep B and Hep C transmission through transplants from 2007 to 2010. Some of the cases resulted in the deaths of the organ recipients. The CDC also found that only about half of the 58 OPOs operating in the United States voluntarily tested for HIV and hepatitis C on all or some of the potential donors as of 2008.

The public has 60 days to respond to the CDC draft guidance.

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