Current practices and evaluation of screening solid organ donors for West Nile virus

R. J. Nett, M. J. Kuehnert, M. G. Ison, J. P. Orlowski, M. Fischer, J. E. Staples*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The first cases of West Nile virus (WNV) transmitted through solid organ transplantation (SOT) were identified in 2002. Subsequently, 5 additional clusters have been reported to public health officials in the United States. Based upon a limited number of known cases, patients who acquire WNV from infected donor organs might be at higher risk for severe neurologic disease and death, compared with patients infected through mosquito bites. In response, some organ procurement organizations (OPOs) have instituted pre-transplant screening of organ donors for WNV infection. We evaluated the current practices, concerns, and challenges related to screening organ donors for WNV in the United States by reviewing the relevant medical literature and interviewing key stakeholders. Screening organ donors for WNV is not required by national policy. In 2008, 11 (19%) of 58 OPOs performed WNV screening using nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT). These OPOs differ in their screening strategies, NAT performed, and logistical challenges. Concerns of delays in receiving NAT results before transplant and potential false-positive results leading to organ wasting are limitations to more widespread screening. Furthermore, it is unknown if WNV screening practices decrease SOT-related morbidity and mortality, or if screening is cost-effective. Additional data are needed to assess and improve transplant outcomes related to WNV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-277
Number of pages10
JournalTransplant Infectious Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Donor screening
  • Evaluation
  • Nucleic acid amplification techniques
  • Organ transplantation
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Transplantation


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