Epidemiological surveillance

Each month, the American Red Cross monitors the true positive rate of each of its infectious disease markers. Since the beginning of HIV testing, there has been a clear downward trend in units that confirm positive for HIV (Dodd, 1994). This reflects improvement in donor screening. There has also been new and more active coordination between agencies and organizations through weekly surveillance of West Nile Virus positivity in blood donors. This positivity actually precedes the CDC's identification of human cases of West Nile Virus disease, so in this situation the coordination of blood-banking and general epidemiology has positive synergistic impacts for public health. Since all positive tests on blood donors are followed up individually by the local blood region, a local increase in confirmed positives suggesting a local epidemic can then be further followed up by local public health entities. And local public health departments notify the local Red Cross about changes in disease epidemiology, so blood collection centers can refrain from blood collection drives in potential epidemic situations.

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