Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infection of plasma is rare, as this cell-free product is stored frozen. In red blood cells, refrigeration at 4°C – a temperature at which most bacteria are unable to survive – keeps bacterial contamination to a very low level. However, there is an approximately 1 in 1,500 chance that a platelet concentrate, which must be stored at temperatures ranging from 20 to 24°C, might be contaminated by bacteria. As an average haematology/oncology patient receives six platelet concentrates during a course of treatment, the risk of receiving a contaminated concentrate increases to as high as 1 in 250. This may cause sepsis, a serious and potentially lethal blood inflammation, in 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 80,000 cases. Certain indications suggest that this sepsis risk may be under-reported and that actual numbers would be closer to 1 in 833 to 1 in 1,333.

Source: Kleinman S, et al. Transfusion. 2013 53, 1603