The OPTN/UNOS Ad Hoc Disease Transmission Advisory Committee (DTAC), after careful review of information available from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), offers the following information to transplant centers and OPOs in light of the first cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) identified in the United States. While the risk of a person with previously undiagnosed EVD becoming an organ donor is thought to be extraordinarily low, the risk of transmitting the disease through transplantation is unstudied. Therefore, it is important for the transplant community to be aware of risk factors for this disease.
The CDC notes that early recognition is critical. OPOs should consider the following points when evaluating potential organ donors.
Travel History and Epidemiologic Risk Factors
Has the donor been in a country where an Ebola outbreak occurred within the past 21 days?
- Reported countries currently include: Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone. For up-to-date details on the affected areas of these countries, please visit the CDC’s West Africa EVD outbreak webpage.
- For updated information, please visit the CDC’s West Africa EVD outbreak webpage.
Has the donor had any of the following within the last 21 days:
- Contact with blood, other body fluids, or human remains of a patient known or suspected to have Ebola?
- Exposure as a health care worker to patients known to have Ebola
- Direct handling of bats or non-human primates from disease-endemic areas?
OPOs should focus on recent travel history and epidemiologic risk factors, highlighting this information when communicating with transplant hospitals considering organ offers. Since the incubation period of Ebola virus disease is as long as 21 days, a returning traveler may theoretically harbor Ebola virus infection but not yet be symptomatic. If this person becomes a potential donor, transmission of Ebola virus to the recipient is possible. If a potential organ donor is noted as having risk factors as noted above, the DTAC suggests aborting the evaluation process and ruling out transplantation.
If the need for future updates arise, they will be posted to the newsroom section of the OPTN and UNOS websites. Please refer to the CDC’s website for updates and new developments regarding 2014 West Africa Outbreak: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html.