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UK Public Health Agency Announces Third Transfusion-Related Case of vCJD

In an effort to keep the community informed about vCJD, we have posted this news story from the United Kingdom. Please note, no plasma-derived product was involved in the transmission of the disease in the three people who were diagnosed there.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) of the United Kingdom’s (UK) National Health Service, which provides support and advice to the local authorities, emergency services and other entities in the interest of public health, has reported a new case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) linked to a blood transfusion. This third transfusion-related case involves a patient in the UK who developed symptoms of vCJD approximately eight years after receiving a blood transfusion. The corresponding donor only showed vCJD symptoms about 20 months after the initial blood donation. All three cases in the UK have been solely connected to transfusions of blood components.

This latest case has occurred in one of the less than 30 individuals living in the UK, who are known to have received a blood transfusion in the UK from a donor who later developed vCJD. “The occurrence of a third case of vCJD infection in a small group of patients like this suggests that blood transfusion from an infected donor may be a relatively efficient mechanism for the transmission of vCJD, although much still remains unknown. This underlines the importance of the existing precautions that have been introduced to reduce the risk of transmitting vCJD infection through blood transfusion,” said professor Peter Borrielo, director of the HPA’s Centre of Infections.

In the vast majority of vCJD cases, individuals have contracted the disease through the consumption of beef. Infected cattle can develop mad cow disease. Mad cow in animals and vCJD in humans are progressive, degenerative diseases with no available treatment. These diseases cause very serious, neurological symptoms and death. Although the symptoms are recognizable, there currently exists no way to test living animals or humans for these diseases, with post-mortem brain dissection the only mode of identification.

Read the original HPA press statement >>

Currently, there have been no reported cases of vCJD transmission through the U.S. blood supply. Tests are being developed to detect CJD and vCJD infections in blood and plasma donors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has in place donor deferrals of all blood donations from people who lived or visited the UK for three months or more between 1980-1996.

If you have any further questions please contact HANDI, NHF’s information resource center at 800-42-HANDI or e-mail or contact your medical professional.

Source: Health Protection Agency press statement dated February 9, 2006


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