West Nile virus may have spread during dialysis

A cluster of hemodialysis patients with West Nile virus (WNV) infections suggests possible transmission of the emerging virus in a dialysis center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. However, the epidemiologic investigation was inconclusive in determining a source of infection.1

In October 2003, the Georgia Division of Public Health was notified of two patients from the same county with confirmed WNV who had received hemodialysis the same day on the same dialysis machine. The two dialysis patients (A and C) had the only confirmed cases of human WNV disease reported in their county in 2003. Review of the dialysis center’s records indicated another patient (B) had received dialysis on the same machine between these two patients the same day. One or more of the dialysis patients might have acquired WNV infection at the dialysis center through an undetected breach in infection control procedures, or outside the dialysis center from the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquito bites are the most common transmission route for WNV; however, transmission has occurred through blood transfusion, organ transplantation, in utero, and possibly through breast milk.


1. Control and Prevention. Possible dialysis-related West Nile virus transmission — Georgia, 2003. MMWR 2004; 53:738-739.