Multiple false reactionse in viral antibody screening assays after influenza vaccination

Lone Simonsen, Joanna Buffington, Craig N. Shapiro, Robert C. Holman, Tara W. Strine, Brenda J. Grossman, Alan E. Williams, Lawrence B. Schonberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


In December 1991, US blood centers reported an unusual increase in donations that tested falsely reactive for antibodies to two or more (multiple false positive) of the following viruses: human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type I (HTLV-I), and hepatitis C virus. Many of these donations were from people who had recently received the 1991-1992 influenza vaccine, raising the possibility that this vaccine had somehow specifically caused the problem of multiple false reactivity. A case-control study of 101 affected donors and 191 matched controls found that recent receipt of any brand of influenza vaccine was significantly associated with testing multiple false positive (p < 0.05), as was a history of recent acute illness (p < 0.05) and of allergies (p < 0.05). Surveillance for monthly rates of multiple reactive donations from May 1990 through December 1992 linked the seasonal cluster of multiple false-positive donations to the use of viral screening test kits thought to react nonspecifically to donor immunoglobulin M. There was no similar increasee in multiple false-positive donations during the 1992-1993 influenza vaccination season after the HIV-1 and hepatitis C virus tests were replaced; however, the number of donations that were falsely reactive for only HTLV-I almost doubled, indicating that false reactivity was not specifically associated with the 1991-1992 influenza vaccine. Retesting of affected donors found that the duration of HTLV-I and hepatitis C virus false reactivity was 3-6 months. The cluster of multiple false-positive donations in 1991 was most likely caused by the test kits used, rather than by the influenza vaccine. Am J Epidemiol 1995;141:1089-96.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1096
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 1995


  • Blood donors
  • False positive reactions
  • HIV
  • HTLV-I
  • Hepatitis C viruses
  • Influenza vaccine


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple false reactionse in viral antibody screening assays after influenza vaccination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this