Gallian, P., Cabié, A., Richard, P., Paturel, L., Charrel, R. N., Pastorino, B., Leparc-Goffart, I., Tiberghien, P., & de Lamballerie, X.
Systematic nucleic acid testing for the presence of the virus allowed the detection of approximately 2% of contaminated blood donations during the outbreak – and their subsequent exclusion to avoid blood-borne transmission. Identified by serological techniques, previous contact of blood donors with ZIKV revealed that a vast majority of ZIKV infections (over 80%) did not seek medical attention, highlighting the silent spread of the disease in the local population. In early June, more than 40% of the donors tested had been in contact with the virus. The authors also showed that, during the acute phase of infection, patients may have significant amounts of virus in their blood in the absence of clinical symptoms for approximately 6 days. This pioneering study provides a precise follow-up of incident cases and seroprevalence in blood donors, and it also provides important insights into the management of blood donations during ZIKV outbreaks and into the natural history of ZIKV infection in adults. It suggests that the study of blood donors during outbreaks of emerging pathogens has become a key element of epidemiological surveillance.