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Swiss ban blood donors from Britain after BSE scare

Blood centres in Switzerland have imposed a ban on donors from Britain to prevent the potential spread of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human illness linked to mad cow disease, according to the newspaper Weltwoche.

From the beginning of 2001, anyone who has stayed longer than six months in Britain will not be accepted as a blood donor, Weltwoche reported on Wednesday.

“It is a purely preventative measure,” Weltwoche quoted Guy Levy, the head of blood donation centre for the Swiss Red Cross, as saying. The decision was taken last week by the directors of the blood donor centres.

Lucerne’s blood centre has already rejected 10 donors because they had stayed in Britain longer than half a year, the Weltwoche weekly reported.

It also reported that blood centres in the Swiss capital, Bern, have imposed the same restrictions on donors since the beginning of the year.

“Ever since the AIDS scandal, you react very sensitively to possible risks. Excluding travellers to England is purely a preventative measure. There has been no evidence so far that the new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease can be transmitted in humans via blood,” Levy is quoted as saying.

Around one per cent of donors or a maximum 2,000 people will be affected, Levy said.

Nearly 80 people have died in Britain from CJD, the brain-wasting disease linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

No cases of the new form of CJD have been reported in Switzerland so far. However, the federal veterinary office called on the government last week to ban the use of animal meal in all livestock feed in a bid to wipe out BSE cases in Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR