Los Angeles Hit Hard by Bloodborne Parasite
A potentially deadly parasite from Latin America that has threatened blood and organ supplies in the U.S. has centered on Los Angeles, where a large proportion of organ donors are Latino, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Two heart transplant patients at different Los Angeles hospitals last year contracted the parasite, called Chagas, prompting CDC to issue a nationwide bulletin warning physicians that the disease might be more prevalent than previously thought, especially in Los Angeles.
The American Red Cross in 2006 detected the parasite in one in 3,800 donors in the Los Angeles area. Officials estimate that 10% to 30% of infected people develop symptoms of a chronic disease.
FDA in December 2006 approved a test to screen for the parasite, and CDC last month reported that FDA is expected to call for all blood-collection facilities to use the test.
However, organ donors are not being tested for the parasite. OneLegacy, an organ procurement agency that covers most of Southern California, in April will begin testing donors who have lived in or traveled to rural parts of Latin America (Lin II, Los Angeles Times, 3/15).