Introduction: Blood transfusion is an important transmission route of Trypanosoma cruzi (T cruzi), a major parasitic infection in Central and South America. The limited treatment options are most effective in acute Chagas’ infection. At present, there is no current data on the prevalence of T cruzi in the blood donor population of Guyana. This information is necessary to protect the supply of the blood donation programme.
This study sought to determine the prevalence of T cruzi in the blood supply at the National Blood Transfusion Services of Guyana with the hope of providing knowledge to the on-going surveillance for Chagas’ disease worldwide and therefore address the risk of its spread by blood transfusion.
Methods: Two commercialized ELISAs utilizing crude or recombinant T cruzi antigens were used to study 2000 blood samples voluntarily donated for the purpose of altruistic or family replacement donation retrospectively.
Results: The results showed that approximately 1 in 286 donations tested positive for antibodies to T cruzi.
Conclusion: These results indicate that T cruzi continues to be a risk in Guyana and there is a need to continue screening donated blood. Trypanosoma cruzi is a life-long infection and infected persons may be asymptomatic chronic carriers of the disease. Education, housing improvement, and controlled use of insecticides should be introduced to contain Chagas’ disease.