HSV1 in Blood Donors

A friend asked me if he could donate blood even though he has an active cold sore on his lip.
Below are the recommendations by the World Health Organization on who can give blood. 
Since he has an active cold sore, he has to wait 28 days. He already has positive antibodies to HSV 1, so an evaluation of how they came up with 28 days is hard to find. He can still donate blood after 28 days of being cold sore free. 

Herpes viruses
Herpes viruses include herpes simplex types I and II, varicella-zoster, EpsteinBarr virus, cytomegalovirus and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated human herpes
virus 8 (HHV8). All these viruses can give rise to latent infection and some are
transfusion-transmissible (190,191). Symptomatic donors should be deferred until
fully recovered. 

Because of the high prevalence of exposure to these viruses in
donors and recipients, except in the case of HHV8, the exclusion of donors with
a history of past infection is neither feasible nor useful.
HHV8 is transmitted by sexual and non-sexual routes and has been reported to
be also transmitted by transfusion and transplantation (192,193,194). 



 Individuals with cold sores and genital herpes, provided there are no active


 Individuals who are symptomatic (except HHV8 infection): defer for at least
28 days following full recovery 

 Contacts of individuals who are symptomatic (except HHV8 infection): defer
for 28 days 

Defer permanently 

 Individuals with HHV8 infection 

 Current and former sexual contacts of individuals with HHV8 infection 

More information: 

Detection of herpes simplex virus DNA in plasma of patients with primary but not with recurrent infection: implications for transfusion medicine?

First published: 04 January 2010



Cited by: 8
summary. Among the family of herpes viruses, only cytomegalovirus (CMV) and, to a lesser extent, human herpes virus 8 (HHV‐8) are of relevance in transfusion medicine. Due to neutropism, herpes simplex viruses (HSV) types 1 and 2 are considered to be of minor relevance. However, several reports gave evidence that a HSV DNAemia might occur and HSV could therefore be transmissible by blood products. The aim of our study was to collect data about prevalence of HSV antibodies among blood donors and to clarify whether HSV DNAemia is possible. HSV antibody states of 653 blood donors were investigated. Blood specimens of 46 patients with primary and recurrent HSV infection were tested for HSV‐1 and HSV‐2 DNA using TaqMan polymerase chain reaction. In 505 of the 653 blood donors HSV antibodies were detectable, most of which were HSV‐1 antibodies. HSV DNA was detected in plasma, but not in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of seven rather seriously ill patients with primary herpes genitalis. No HSV viraemia was detectable in otherwise healthy patients with recurrent herpes labialis. Thus, HSV DNAemia is possible, but seems to be limited to primary infections and could not be detected in the recurrent infection. Therefore, blood donors with primary herpes infection should be deferred from donation. Blood donors with recurrent HSV infection are probably not at risk of transmitting HSV, but further studies are necessary to prove this hypothesis. Detection of HSV DNA in PBMCs as described formerly could not be confirmed by this study.
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