Summer holidays and blood donation: things to bear in mind
The Blood Service is responsible for ensuring the safety of blood products and does this by having in place certain safeguards against transfusion-transmitted infections that are often asymptomatic. One example is the 28-day deferral period for donors who visit Central or Southern Europe during the West Nile virus season (between 1 July and 30 November).
The mosquito-borne virus has caused a number of epidemics in humans in parts of Southern and Eastern Europe as well as in a few Mediterranean countries in the 21st century. Most cases are asymptomatic, but the virus can cause symptoms such as fever, nausea and headache. Approximately one per cent of those infected can develop a severe inflammation of the brain.
‘The virus can be transmitted through blood products, which is why we have introduced a deferral period for donors during the peak season from 1 July until 30 November’, says Specialist Riikka Lehtisalo from the Blood Service.
The 28-day deferral period applies to donors who visit (for more than 20 hours) any of the following areas on or after 1 July:
• Southwest Spain; areas southwest of the Malaga–Córdoba–Cáceres axis (excluding these cities)
• Italy; excluding Rome
• Eastern parts of Austria; areas east of the Linz–Graz axis (excluding these cities), including Vienna
• Mainland Greece; including the Peloponnese peninsula and the Island of Evia (Euboea)
• France; areas east of the Montpellier–Avignon axis all the way to the border with Italy
• Northeast Germany; areas east of the Rostock–Magdeburg–Hof axis (excluding these cities), including Berlin
For more information and country-specific deferral periods, visit the website of the Blood Service or call our toll-free donor helpline on 0800 05801 (Monday to Friday between 8 am and 5 pm).
Donors needed throughout the summer
We need approximately 800 people to donate blood every day we are open to ensure that we have enough blood products for all patients who need them. Holidaymakers who stay in Finland do not need to wait until they return to their home town to donate blood.
‘There are blood donation events all over the country every day from Monday to Friday throughout the summer. Those who are spending the summer at their holiday home or moving from place to place can check out the website of the Blood Service for their nearest blood donation site and donate blood there or visit a blood donation event’, Riikka Lehtisalo says.