Visiting different regions of the world can put you at greater risk of exposure to diseases.  Even if you take precautions when travelling to areas that have a high risk of certain infections carried by insects, animals or people, you can still catch something and not realize it. In most cases, you may feel fine and have no symptoms at all, but still have an infection that could be transmitted through your blood to a patient. To protect blood recipients, our screening process includes checking for time spent in these areas.  

Donors who have travelled to the continental U.S., Europe and Antarctica do not have to wait before donating blood. Donors who have traveled to all other countries will require at least a 21-day wait.

More information on Malaria

How Does Canadian Blood Services Determine Which Areas or Countries Are Risk Areas for Malaria?

We use a list provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify malaria risk areas, and may revise some areas for clarity (e.g., if the list is not precise, saying there is a risk “in northern areas only”, we expand our criteria to include the whole state, province or, in some cases, the country).

Does Canadian Blood Services Test for Malaria?

Today, there is no suitable test in Canada to screen blood donors for malaria. In the absence of an available test, we rely on thorough donor screening and health assessments to protect the blood system. Our malaria policy applies to all donors, even those who have taken anti-malarial medication. This is because some medications are believed to mask malarial symptoms for a period of time, prolonging the onset of the disease. As well, some zones contain medication-resistant strains of malaria. The longer you stay in a malaria risk zone, the more likely you are to come in contact with the disease. Our precautionary approach includes a longer deferral period for people who have spent six consecutive months or more in a malaria risk zone.

I Have Fully Recovered from Malaria. Can I Donate Blood?

We do not accept whole blood or platelets from individuals who have had malaria. Even if you are fully recovered, there is a chance you may still be carrying the malarial parasite in your red blood cells and platelets. You may give a plasma only donation (Plasmapheresis) at a Canadian Blood Services clinic that has the equipment to perform this specialized procedure, provided you have been recovered from malaria for more than 6 months.