- Scientists claim to have found the first evidence that
the human form of mad cow disease can be transmitted through donated blood
from people showing no symptoms of the disease.
- The findings come after scientists from the Institute
for Animal Health in Edinburgh and Compton, Berkshire, fed 19 sheep BSE-infected
- Blood was then taken from these infected sheepbefore
they started to display symptoms of the disease and transfused into healthy
sheep from New Zealand.
- Within about 20 months, one of the sheep which had been
given the transfusion started to show signs of BSE. The others remained
healthy, but less time has elapsed since they received the transfusion.
- This is the first evidence that BSE, and the human form
vCJD, could be transmitted through infected blood from outwardly healthy
individuals. However, hospitals filter out cells which may harbour vCJD
as a precaution.
- Dr Chris Bostock said in the Lancet today: "This
report suggests that blood donated by symptom-free vCJD-infected human
beings may represent a risk of spread of vCJD infection among the human
population of the UK."
- He added that the findings vindicated safety measures
implemented by hospitals.
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