Blood Bank has updated their “Overseas Travel Criteria for Blood Donation”

During my 108th blood donation, HSA staff flagged my blood for a malaria check, due to my visit to Taman Negara in Malaysia last year.

They had not done so for blood donation no. 107, so I queried and they simply said something about having to be careful about malaria.

Then last week or so, I learnt that HSA had announced recent updates to its Overseas Travel Criteria for Blood donation.

The section on Malarial areas of concern says,

To ensure our blood supply is free of malaria, we test the blood of donors who may have been infected or exposed to malaria when they resided in or travelled to a malaria endemic area.

Click here for the latest list of malaria endemic areas.

First-time donors with a history of malaria will be deferred indefinitely. Persons who have had malaria may still carry a low level of parasites in their body although they have recovered and display no symptoms.

Donors’ blood donations will be tested if they have:

  • Visited a malaria endemic area in the last 12 months.
  • Lived in a malaria endemic area for more than 6 months continuously.

If your donation is tested positive for malaria, you will be deferred indefinitely.

For donors who return less than 4 months from a malaria endemic area, they will be deferred from blood donation for at least 4 months from the day they left the area. This deferral period enables us to reliably test for malaria in the blood donation as it takes about 4 months for the body to develop antibody after exposure.

However, for Singapore residents who travel frequently and have returned less than 4 months from a malaria endemic area, they may still donate blood. But they are required to return 4 months after their departure from the malaria-endemic area for a malaria test before their blood can be released for transfusion.

It’s not that new to be careful about malaria. When I was actively in and out of odd places in the region, and with my my platelet count too low, I switched to plasmareisis to avoid the possibility that I was a symptomless host of the malaria parasite!

The other advisories are about Chikungunya fever, Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and West Nile Virus. Note that the latter two concern travellers to Europe and North America/Greece.

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