Malaria and blood donation
Malaria is a serious infectious disease caused by parasites (plasmodium) which are transmitted by mosquitoes, and it is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world. Malaria can be transmitted by blood products – even when the donor has only very mild symptoms. The risk of transmitting malaria must be carefully evaluated when the eligibility to donate blood is assessed.
People who have been infected with malaria
Persons diagnosed with malaria are not eligible to donate blood for a minimum period of 3 years. When the 3-year period following the end of treatment has elapsed, donor blood can be tested at the FRCBS for malaria antibodies. If the test result is negative and no antibodies are detected, the person is eligible to donate blood. However, if the antibody test is positive, the person is not eligible as a blood donor.
Persons who have lived in endemic countries as children (aged 0 - 5 years)
Persons who have lived in their childhood in countries where malaria is endemic may have been infected without their knowledge, and may remain carriers of the parasite. Even when re-infected later, a carrier may show no symptoms of the disease. However, malaria can be transmitted to others by infected blood. This is why persons who were born in a country where malaria is or has been endemic, are subjected to a malaria antibody test before their first donation session. If the test is positive and antibodies are detected, the person is ineligible to donate blood.
Anyone who has lived as a child in a country where malaria is endemic and travels to an area where malaria is endemic, will not be eligible to donate blood for 3 years following his or her return. After the 3-year period has elapsed, the blood is again tested for malaria antibodies before eligibility to donate can be confirmed.
Travelling in countries/areas where malaria is endemic
Travelling to an area where malaria reportedly occurs will cause you to be ineligible to donate blood for 6 months following your return and after finishing your prophylactic drug regimen (possibility of malaria infection). All areas where even a very limited risk of malaria exists are classified as malarious areas based on WHO's information on health risks for travellers ("International Travel and Health 2008"). The list includes areas where taking antimalarial drugs may not be recommended to travellers. Countries where malaria occurs are listed in the table below. In some of these countries, the risk of malaria transmission is present only in certain areas.
Donors who have visited these countries can call the FRCBS toll-free number (0800 0 5801, Mon - Fri at 8 am - 5 pm) or contact us by email verenluovutus(at)veripalvelu.fi for detailed information on the degree of malaria risk at their specific travel destinations.
lList of counties where malaria occurs
Further information on WHO's pages