Thursday, February 20, 2003

Strange particles found in Ohio blood supply; tests inconclusive

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Red Cross officials said they couldn't determine the origin of mysterious white, fibrous, clumpy material that turned up in seven units of central Ohio blood.

The blood has been discarded.

Rita Barnes, quality director for the Central Ohio Region of the Red Cross, said Tuesday that health officials have not been able to determine what the particles are.

"Nobody is really willing to say 100 percent what it is," she said.

"It's not infectious, it's not smallpox, it's not anthrax, it's not ebola, it's not the plague," she said.

So far, the material appears to be biological - platelets, fatty material and fibrin, Barnes said.

Tests by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were inconclusive.

But Barnes said the agency ruled out bioterrorism and various bacteria, viruses and fungi.

"Everything they've come up with so far supports that it's biological matter," Barnes said.

Blood collection workers and hospitals that use their products have been keeping a close watch since January, when 65 bags of blood in Georgia were found to be contaminated.

Similar reports from around the country include different blood bag types and blood donated to non-Red Cross agencies, Barnes said.

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