Time for Lyme

Blood Transfusion Services


National blood transfusion services have the responsibility to collect blood only from donors who are at low risk for any infection that could be transmitted through transfusion and who are unlikely to jeopardize their own health by blood donation.
The national guidelines are based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines published in 2012.

The 2012 WHO document :
Blood donor selection : guidelines on assessing donor suitability for blood donation.
ISBN 978 92 4 154851 9

Paragraph 7.5.2 concerning Lyme disease
The spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi is carried by insect vectors including ticks, horseflies and mosquitoes.
It can survive blood storage temperatures.
Transfusiontransmission is possible but has not been reported.
Infected individuals usually exhibit symptoms of rash, fever, lymphadenopathy, often progressing to chronic arthropathy and/or neurological involvement, and are likely to be identified and excluded by careful donor selection.
Defer : Individuals with a current diagnosis of Lyme disease: defer for 28 days following completion of treatment and full recovery, whichever is longer.

European national blood transfusion services have additional precautions about Lyme disease.

They are listed here :



Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen

Red Cross Flanders

Dutch-speaking Belgium


For a donation, all donors receive a medical questionnaire that they complete and sign in good faith.

These questions include:
- Do you have or have you ever had a serious condition?
- Have you had a tick bite in the past month?
- Have you used any medicines or received a vaccination in the past month?
- In the past 4 months (or since your last donation): have you had a fever, swollen lymph nodes or have you lost weight?

All these questions assess, among other things, the risk of infection, including infection with Borrelia spp., and are discussed further with the selection doctor or health care worker. Donors who have had a tick bite are excluded for 4 weeks if the tick has persisted on the skin for more than 24 hours (or if there were signs of infection such as e.g. erythema migrans). Donors who have not fully recovered clinically from Lyme for 4 weeks (= 4 weeks completely free of symptoms and medication) will also be postponed. If there is the slightest doubt about these criteria, a donor is deferred for donation.

All donors also receive a postal donation card with their donation, among other things to report matters that they were not yet aware of at the time of their blood donation.

More information on the webpage for the guidelines around a tick bite and Lyme disease:

https://www.rodekruis.be/wat-kan-jij-doen/ Geef-bloed-of-plasma/bloed-geven-hoe-waar-en-mag-ik/#ben-je-verkouden-of-ziek -have-you-have-a-medical-condition-or-infection

With a tick bite?
- If the tick was removed within 24 hours and there were no symptoms and you received no treatment, you can simply give blood or plasma or platelets. Without delay.
- If the tick has not been removed within 24 hours (regardless of symptoms or treatment), wait 1 month before donating.
- If you developed symptoms of and/or treatment for Lyme disease, you should wait 4 weeks before giving blood or plasma or platelets. To be counted from the disappearance of the symptoms and the discontinuation of the treatment.

Croix-Rouge de Belgique (partie francophone et germanophone)

Belgian Red Cross (French-speaking and German-speaking part)

Belgique francophone et germanophone


The Blood Service of the Belgian Red Cross (French-speaking and German-speaking part) currently applies the following criteria in the event of suspected borreliosis or Lyme disease diagnosed in a blood, plasma or platelet donor :

Borreliosis, Lyme disease: contraindication to temporary donation for 3 months from recovery

Tick bite:
- without local symptoms : donation authorized
- with local symptoms : contraindication to temporary donation for 3 months

We do not carry out a corresponding biological test.

Punainen Risti Veripalvelu

Finnish Red Cross Blood Service



In Finland, the guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2012, section 7.5.2, are followed to the letter.

The most detailed additional precautions are not taken to test for borreliosis in the blood of donors.

Centro Nazionale Sangue Istituto Superiore di Sanità

National Blood Centre Higher Institute of Health



In consideration of the low number of cases in the general population notified annually to the Italian Ministry of Health, in Italy the transfusion risk for Lyme disease is considered negligible. Therefore, even considering the absence of evidence of transfusion transmission, blood donor screening is not performed.

Currently, the prevention measures for the Italian blood transfusion network are exclusively the anamnestic investigation and the consequent deferral, up to 12 months after recovery for subjects who have contracted the Lyme disease.

Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine



In the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine, blood donors are not tested for Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease.

Hungarian National Blood Transfusion Service



In order to constantly monitor international regulations, however, European and domestic regulations are mandatory for us.
According to our current regulations, investigative colleagues must proceed as follows:

"Lyme disease (borreliosis): You cannot donate blood if you are currently ill or have suffered from borreliosis (Lyme disease) in the past year.

You can access these regulations and follow them later on our website https://www.ovsz.hu "Information on eligibility conditions for donating blood".
Currently, the OVSz is not planning to introduce another screening test.