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Test Turns up West Nile in Blood Donors

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NEW YORK, Sep 19, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Federal health officials say a new test has detected the West Nile virus in more than 600 blood donors this summer.

Such discoveries prevented transfusions of the contaminated blood. But, the officials say, though infections continue, the season of the mosquito-borne disease, appears to have passed its peak.

There is no way to be sure precisely how many West Nile cases were prevented by the test to screen donations, the New York Times said, but the number of prevented illnesses appears to be encouraging.

"We can presume that we've prevented a very large number of infections and some significant amount of clinical disease," Dr. Jesse Goodman, of the Food and Drug Administration, said.

Two patients who received transfusions contracted West Nile encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said. In one case, the tests failed to detect the virus but officials were not certain how the other case occurred.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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