Volume 62, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Human visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) transmitted by blood transfusion has been described in previous reports. Seroprevalence of antibodies to Leishmania donovani was shown to be related to prior blood transfusions in multiply transfused hemodialysis patients in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. In this study, a possible correlation between seroreactivity and the presence of L. donovani DNA was investigated in asymptomatic healthy blood donors. Sera were tested using the fucose mannose ligand (FML) ELISA, which was shown to have a sensitivity of 100%, a specificity of 96-100%, reliability, and diagnostic and prognostic potential for the detection of human and canine kala-azar, respectively. Leishmanial DNA was assessed by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and dot-blot hybridization techniques in blood and bone marrow samples. Among 21 FML-seroreactive asymptomatic blood donors, 5 (24%) were positive by the PCR and 9 (43%) were positive in a dot-blot assay of blood samples, showing a significant correlation (chi2 = 14.24, P < 0.01). No Leishmania DNA was detected in 20 FML non-reactive blood donors. Our results point to the need for control of transmission of kala-azar by blood transfusion in areas endemic for this disease.


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