Whole-Genome Sequencing Used to Link a Platelet Donor Colonized with Clostridium perfringens to Two Fatal Cases of Sepsis After Transfusion — Salt Lake City, 2017

  • Mitigation strategies over the past two decades have substantially increased the safety of blood products; yet, bacterial contamination of platelet products persists as one of the main causes of transfusion-associated illnesses and deaths.
  • Two immunocompromised patients developed sepsis and died shortly after receiving platelet units donated by the same donor.
  • Whole genome sequencing linked Clostridium perfringens colonization on the donor’s skin to the platelet product and to the patient’s blood.
Quote from the Disease Detective

“Even when following current blood safety procedures, the risk of transfusion-related infection and fatalities persists. Evidence-based strategies to mitigate the risk of bacterial contamination of platelets should be implemented.”

-Roberta Z. Horth, PhD, MPH, EIS Class of 2017

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CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

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Roberta Z. Horth, PhD, MPH, EIS Class of 2017


Roberta Z. Horth, PhD, MPH, EIS Class of 2017
Utah Department of Health

Education: PhD: Tulane University, 2013 MPH: Yale University, 2006 BA: Trinity University, 2003

Work Experience: Technical Advisor and Research Analyst, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Global Health Sciences, San Francisco, CA, 2014-Present; Consultant, National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), Washington, DC, 2015- 2016; Consultant, African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), 2015-2015; Consultant, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 2014-2014