- WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The
Pentagon on Friday took steps to curb even a small risk of spreading the
human form of brain- wasting mad cow disease through blood from troops
and others connected with the U.S. military.
- The Defense Department said it was tightening criteria
for blood donations by troops, their families and civilian workers, including
refusing to accept blood from anyone who traveled to or lived in the United
Kingdom from 1980 through 1996 for a cumulative period of six months or
- The department said it was following draft guidance from
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on restricting blood donors who may
have been exposed in Europe to the agent that causes a variant of the brain-wasting
- People with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human variant
of mad cow disease, suffer a rapid decrease of mental function and movement
abnormalities caused by damage to the tissues of the brain.
- Death usually comes within six months of the onset of
- Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
J. Jarrett Clinton said the department has enough blood to meet military
operational requirements as well as requirements of medical treatment facilities.
- But he said the steps would disqualify an estimated 18
percent of nation's 1.4 million active-duty personnel from donating blood
and that recruitment efforts would be increased among remaining troops
to get blood.
- Effective September 14, the department's new criteria
will also restrict from blood donations:
- - Defense Department-affiliated persons who have been
stationed in Europe from 1980 through 1996 for a cumulative period of six
months or more.
- - Others who have traveled or resided in Europe from
1980 to the present for a cumulative period of five years. That includes
department personnel who lived or visited there after January 1, 1997.
- - Anyone who has received a transfusion in the United
Kingdom since 1980.
- - Anyone who has received bovine insulin produced in
Britain since 1980.
- The announcement came a day after scientists studying
genetically altered mice said in Washington that it may be possible to
create a vaccine to fight fatal ailments such as mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob
- Researchers led by Adriano Aguzzi and Frank Heppner of
the University of Zurich in Switzerland said that they had modified mice
genetically so that their immune system released antibodies that protect
against abnormal versions of proteins called prions.
- Prions are believed to trigger a number of degenerative
- Their findings, published in the journal Science, could
pave the way for the development of a vaccine against the diseases, the
researchers said at a news conference.