Ross River virus in Australian blood donors: possible implications for blood transfusion safety Academic Article uri icon


  • Emerging transfusion-transmissible pathogens, including arboviruses such as West Nile, Zika, dengue, and Ross River viruses, are potential threats to transfusion safety. The most prevalent arbovirus in humans in Australia is Ross River virus (RRV); however, prevalence varies substantially around the country. Modeling estimated a yearly risk of 8 to 11 potentially RRV-viremic fresh blood components nationwide. This study aimed to measure the occurrence of RRV viremia among donors who donated at Australian collection centers located in areas with significant RRV transmission during one peak season.Plasma samples were collected from donors (n = 7500) who donated at the selected collection centers during one peak season. Viral RNA was extracted from individual samples, and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was performed.Regions with the highest rates of RRV transmission were not areas where donor centers were located. We did not detect RRV RNA among 7500 donations collected at the selected centers, resulting in a zero risk estimate with a one-sided 95% confidence interval of 0 to 1 in 2019 donations.Our results suggest that the yearly risk of collecting a RRV-infected blood donation in Australia is low and is at the lower range of previous risk modeling. The majority of Australian donor centers were not in areas known to be at the highest risk for RRV transmission, which was not taken into account in previous models based on notification data. Therefore, we believe that the risk of RRV transfusion transmission in Australia is acceptably low and appropriately managed through existing risk management, including donation restrictions and recall policies.


  • Faddy, HM
  • Tran, TV
  • Hoad, VC
  • Seed, CR
  • Viennet, E
  • Chan, Hiu Tat Mark
  • Harley, R
  • Hewlett, E
  • Hall, RA
  • Bielefeldt-Ohmann, H
  • Flower, RLP
  • Prow, NA

publication date

  • 2018