HIV/Aids

18 March 2016

5 people exposed to syphilis at hospital

Patients at two separate hospitals in neighbouring Botswana were recently given infected blood samples via transfusion.

0

According to Botswana’s Mmegi newspaper and the African country’s health minister, five patients at two major hospitals were accidentally exposed to syphilis last week after receiving blood infected with the virus that causes the STI.

Read: All about syphilis symptoms and causes   

The Southern African country's government confirmed the shocking cases at an impromptu press conference held in the nation’s capital Gaborone on Thursday 17 March 2016. At the conference, health minister Dorcas Makgatho said eight blood units were distributed from the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) to the Princess Marina and Scottish Livingstone Memorial Hospitals in Gaborone and Molepolole respectively two weeks ago.

Read: The STI you most likely could have without knowing it

The minister blamed the detection faults on a newly introduced blood capture technology system, stating: “Somehow during the verification of the system, we detected that eight units of blood containing the Treponema pallidum virus – that can cause syphilis – were dispatched to the two health facilities. Unfortunately five units had already been sent to the facilities and transfused – four pints at Princess Marina Hospital and one at the Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole.”

Read: Blood transfusion and HIV/Aids

She then went on to say that the health ministry takes full responsibility for errors and the plan to prevent more mistakes in the future: “We have tracked the clients and we are already talking to them, counselling them and preparing them for treatment. We will provide all possible medical assistance within our ability. We are putting up structures and mechanisms so that this does not happen again."

Watch: Do I Have Syphilis? Signs and Symptoms of Syphilis



Read: WHO 'pre-qualifies' new HIV/syphilis combo test

None of the affected patients have shown any signs of developing syphilis, according to Makgatho. Referring the details of the cases, she added: “The samples of the eight pints were confirmed negative for HIV 172, hepatitis B & C, but were reactive for Treponema pallidum only at the time of screening. Treponema pallidum can only survive under cold temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius for three to five days. The blood units issued stayed in the cold room for a minimum of eight days, which significantly lowers chances that the disease could have been transmitted to the patients,” she said.

The faulty blood screening technology was reportedly recently acquired by the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) from a South African company according to ENCA.

Read more: 

More South Africans urged to donate blood

Top excuses for not donating blood

The health benefits of donating blood

 

Ask the Expert

HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules