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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
CJD risk database proposed
The committee will look at the vCJD transmission risks during surgery
The committee will look at the vCJD transmission risks during surgery
Patients who fear they have been exposed to CJD may in future be able to check on a national database.

The proposal is one of the recommendations from the independent CJD (Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease) Incidents Panel.

Its proposals aim to guide health professionals on what should happen if a patient is found to have CJD some time after they have undergone surgery, or donated blood, organs or tissue.


The proposals, once agreed, will provide a helpful framework to assist with the management of such incidents in future

Professor Michael Banner, CJD Incidents Panel
Other proposals, which the panel has published for consultation, include specifying when surgical instruments used on patients with CJD could still harbour some infectivity and should be destroyed.

They are also suggesting precautions which should be taken with individuals at highest risk of having been infected with CJD, to reduce the risk of the infection being passed on.

The panel, set up in August 2000 by the Chief Medical Officer Professor Liam Donaldson, also calls for health professionals to be given the information and support they need to counsel patients who may have been exposed to CJD.

Unknowns

Professor Michael Banner, head of the panel, said: "CJD is a terrible disease where there are still many unknowns.

"The Panel has already advised on handling the aftermath of a number of incidents.

"The proposals, once agreed, will provide a helpful framework to assist with the management of such incidents in future."

There have been concerns CJD could be transferred via instruments used in eye operations, and dental treatment.

And the Department of Health has recommended instruments used to remove the tonsils should only be used once and then thrown away.

The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), which advises the government on vCJD, has said there were no recorded cases being transmitted by surgical instruments in the UK.

But it said there was a "theoretical" risk the disease was not completely destroyed by sterilisation of surgical instruments.

Dementia

Diseases like vCJD and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) are believed to be caused by an infectious agent called a prion, which can be carried in blood and tissue.

This causes the death of brain cells, in humans causing symptoms such as unsteadiness, insomnia, memory loss and dementia.

Death normally occurs about six months after the onset of the disease.

See also:

19 Jul 01 | Health
CJD risk from eye operations
04 Jan 01 | Scotland
Single-use scalpels to combat CJD
04 Jan 01 | Health
Hospital drive to cut CJD risk
16 Jan 01 | Health
BSE risk halts tonsil operations
02 Aug 00 | Health
CJD dentistry fears played down
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