Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Blood-Screening Strategies for West Nile Virus in the United States

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene United States of America
PLoS Medicine (Impact Factor: 14). 03/2006; 3(2):e21. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030021
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT West Nile virus (WNV) is endemic in the US, varying seasonally and by geographic region. WNV can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and mandatory screening of blood for WNV was recently introduced throughout the US. Guidelines for selecting cost-effective strategies for screening blood for WNV do not exist.
We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis for screening blood for WNV using a computer-based mathematical model, and using data from prospective studies, retrospective studies, and published literature. For three geographic areas with varying WNV-transmission intensity and length of transmission season, the model was used to estimate lifetime costs, quality-adjusted life expectancy, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios associated with alternative screening strategies in a target population of blood-transfusion recipients. We compared the status quo (baseline screening using a donor questionnaire) to several strategies which differed by nucleic acid testing of either pooled or individual samples, universal versus targeted screening of donations designated for immunocompromised patients, and seasonal versus year-long screening. In low-transmission areas with short WNV seasons, screening by questionnaire alone was the most cost-effective strategy. In areas with high levels of WNV transmission, seasonal screening of individual samples and restricting screening to blood donations designated for immunocompromised recipients was the most cost-effective strategy. Seasonal screening of the entire recipient pool added minimal clinical benefit, with incremental cost-effectiveness ratios exceeding USD 1.7 million per quality-adjusted life-year gained. Year-round screening offered no additional benefit compared to seasonal screening in any of the transmission settings.
In areas with high levels of WNV transmission, seasonal screening of individual samples and restricting screening to blood donations designated for immunocompromised recipients is cost saving. In areas with low levels of infection, a status-quo strategy using a standard questionnaire is cost-effective.

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