CJD risk could ban British blood donors

17 July 1998

CJD risk could ban British blood donors

THE government is considering banning blood transfusions from British donors because of a remote risk they might spread Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) – the human form of BSE.

The Department of Health has to decide which poses the greater risk: the 40 million-to-one chance of a donor having CJD, or imported blood which may be contaminated with other infections such as HIV.

Three of the 25 known victims of CJD – all of whom died – were blood donors, although it is not known if they were infected when they gave blood.

One report considered by the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) – the governments BSE advisory body – suggests that up to 80,000 donors could be carrying the disease. This means one patient in every 125 could have receive contaminated blood.

Another report suggested a blood purification system being tested in the US could not be guaranteed to work.

SEAC has now passed its reports to the Government, coupled with the advice that it must decide whether to ban British donors or risk blood from abroad.

Previous SEAC advice has been accepted by the government, including one in February that blood from British donors should not be used in the manufacture of plasma products. The governments unpopular ban on the sale of beef-on-the-bone was also a SEAC recommendation.

  • Financial Times 16/07/98 page 33
  • The Times 17/07/98 page 1
  • The Guardian 17/07/98 page 11
  • The Independent 17/07/98 page 4
  • The Daily Telegraph 17/07/98 page 2

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