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No ban on blood donors from Britain

The Federal Health Office has decided not to ban people who lived in Britain between 1980 and 1986 from giving blood. The decision comes despite claims a ban could help control the spread of Creuzveldt Jacob disease (CJD).

This content was published on February 27, 2000 - 12:32

The Federal Health Office has decided not to ban people who lived in Britain between 1980 and 1986 from giving blood. The decision comes despite claims a ban could help control the spread of Creuzveldt Jacob disease (CJD).

CJD is the human variant of BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease, a fatal brain disorder in cattle. It is thought humans can contract CJD by eating contaminated beef, although this has never been formally proven.

Britain was particularly badly hit by the BSE epidemic. As a result, the United States and Canada have imposed bans on blood donations from people who were living in Britain when the disease was at its height.

They hope these precautions will help limit the spread of CJD. However, experts admit the benefits of such bans are impossible to quantify; it is not yet known whether the disease can actually be transmitted through blood products.

The Federal Health Office believes that existing blood filtration systems provide sufficient protection for patients, and says a ban on donations from former British residents is unnecessary.

It admits, however, that this method does not provide a 100 per cent guarantee that blood products are safe. This, it says, would require a new test capable of detecting prions, the infectious agents which cause BSE and CJD.

As a further precaution, donors will be asked if there have been cases of CJD within their families, and to state whether they have undergone corneal implants.

From staff and wire reports

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