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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 18:17 GMT
vCJD warning for blood patients
Blood
The patients received potentially contaminated blood
Around 50 people who received blood transfusions are to be warned they may have been exposed to vCJD.

In July a similar warning was issued to around 100 blood donors whose blood had been given to three people who later developed the brain disease.

Experts said it was impossible to say categorically their donated blood was not the source of the infection.

The latest group are people who received blood from some of these 100 donors.

The general principle is that people estimated to be at greater risk of carrying the vCJD agent than the general population should be notified unless the risk is clearly below 1%
Department of Health

The CJD Incidents Panel has said the recipients should also be traced and notified of their potential exposure to vCJD.

To reduce the possibility of further transmission they will be asked not to donate blood, tissue or organs, and to inform doctors of their position if they have to have surgery.

Support offered

The Department of Health said that UK blood services were contacting the hospitals where the donated blood was issued, asking for their help in identifying the individuals who received the blood transfusions.

They said that the patients would be offered advice and support.

The likelihood of a person who may be infected with vCJD going on to develop symptoms is uncertain - it is possible that an infected person may never develop the illness.

However, officials said that until a reliable blood screening test for the agent becomes available, it was sensible to proceed on a precautionary basis to protect public health.

The first possible case of transmission of vCJD by blood transfusion was announced by then Health Secretary John Reid in December 2003.

Since then anyone who has received a transfusion of whole blood components since January 1980 has been excluded from donating blood as part of measures to protect the blood supply.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The general principle is that people estimated to be at greater risk of carrying the vCJD agent than the general population should be notified unless the risk is clearly below 1%.

"It is possible that a person carrying the vCJD agent may never develop symptoms, however until a reliable blood screening test becomes available, it is sensible to proceed on a precautionary basis to protect public health."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear from the parent of a vCJD sufferer



SEE ALSO:
Blood donors warned over vCJD
20 Jul 05 |  Health
Timeline: vCJD in the UK
06 Aug 04 |  UK
Q&A: vCJD numbers
05 Aug 04 |  Health


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