Blood Transfusions & Ehrlichia

Blood transfusions from infected individuals and passed to uninfected individuals is a serious problem that has been responsible for a number of deaths.

Blood Transfusion and Organ Transplant Risks Associated with Ehrlichia species

Because Ehrlichia organisms infect the white blood cells and circulate in the blood stream, these pathogens may pose a risk to be transmitted through blood transfusions. Ehrlichia chaffeensis has been shown to survive for more than a week in refrigerated blood.

Several instances of suspected E. chaffeensis transmission through solid organ transplant have been investigated, although to date no cases have been confirmed that can be attributed to this route of transmission.

Patients who develop ehrlichiosis within a month of receiving a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant should be reported to state health officials for prompt investigation. Use of leukoreduced blood products may theoretically decrease the risk of transfusion-associated transmission of these pathogens.

However, the filtration process does not remove all leukocytes or bacteria not associated with leukocytes from leukoreduced blood; therefore, this process may not eliminate the risk completely.

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Transfusion Related Studies

Survival of Ehrlichia In Stored Blood

Not Unusual To Be Detected In Organ Transplants

"Ehrlichiosis is not unusual in solid organ transplant recipients

And lung transplant recipients tend to have a more severe illness."


Liver Transplant Patient

"Reinfection with E. chaffeensis after a 2-year interval..."


Tennessee Hospitals

"Between 1998 and 2006, 15 transplant patients

Were identified as having ehrlichiosis."


Transplanted Organs & Ehrlichiosis

Kidney Transplant Recipient

"Renal transplant recipient male on maintenance

immunosuppressive therapy presented with high grade fever,

leukopenia, thrombocytopenia and elevated transaminases

and initially met clinical criteria for severe sepsis."


Pancreas Transplant Recipient

Graft Loss

Transfusion-transmitted ehrlichiosis

Following cord blood stem cell transplant

Last Updated- April 2019

Lucy Barnes