Thalassemia is a genetic blood disease. People born with this disease cannot make normal hemoglobin which is needed to produce healthy red blood cells. Thalassemia is not infectious and cannot be passed from one individual to another by personal contact.
Thalassemia is most often found in families of Chinese, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean or African origin. The only way to know if you carry the Thalassemia trait is to have a special blood test called hemoglobin electrophoresis. If you are in an at-risk group, request a test from your doctor.