Bacteria Implicated in Contamination
Yersina entercolitica is most likely responsible for septic reactions in transfusions of Red Blood Cells. This organism is usually acquired by ingestion of contaminated food and causes mild symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea. Growth of Y. entercolitica is enhanced in iron-rich environments such as red blood cells. Other organisms reportedly found in Red Blood Cell units are Campylobacter species, Serratia species, Pseudomonas species, Enterobacter species, and Echerichia coli. These bacteria can produce endotoxins which cause a reaction in the patient.
The majority of organisms associated with platelets transfusions are normal skin flora. Staphylococcus aureus, coagulase-negative staphylocci, aerobic and anerobic diptheroid bacilli, streptococci, and gram-positive bacilli are frequently isolated. Some transfused organisms have been implicated in a delayed post-transfusion illness.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia capacia have been isolated in cryoprecipitate and plasma. These organisms grow optimally at 30oC and have been found in water baths, accentuating the importance of overwrapping components that are thawed in a water bath.
Rickettsia organisms are intracellular bacteria which are transmitted by ticks or insects. These bacteria are the causes of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and scrub typhus, and may be transmitted by transfusion. Similarly, the organism which causes Lyme disease may be transmitted as well. There have no reports of either of these organisms transmitted by transfusion.