- BETHESDA, Maryland (Reuters) -- Federal advisers said on Friday the U.S.
government should consider barring blood donations from people who lived
in or visited Britain because of concerns about mad cow disease.
- The worry is that these people may have
eaten meat or meat products infected with mad cow disease, and could be
at risk for getting and transmitting new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
(CJD), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisers said. The FDA
will now decide whether to direct blood banks to follow the panel's advice.
- No American cattle have had mad cow disease.
- The panelists said blood banks should
survey donors to find out if they lived or spent up to a year in Britain
or visited from 1980 to the present. After that data is gathered, a final
decision on whom to block from donating blood in the U.S. can be made,
the panel said.
- Thirty-four people in Britain have come
down with new variant CJD. Four donated blood at some point, said Jeremy
Metters, deputy chief medical officer at the United Kingdom Department
- The vote was 9 to consider blocking donations
and six against. The panel voted unanimously that the recommendation should
apply only to Britain. "We have such an imperfect understanding about
what's going on," said committee member Stanley Prusiner of the University
of California, San Francisco.
- Prusiner won the Nobel Prize in Medicine
for discovering the organism thought to cause diseases like bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.
- The American Red Cross estimated that
10.7 percent, or one million units, of the current blood supply would be
lost if people who had lived or travelled in Britain could not make donations.
- "In a blood supply that is already
marginal, a 10 percent deficit could be irremediable," said Steven
Kleinman, a pathology professor at the University of British Columbia and
chairman of the American Association of Blood Banks' transfusion transmitted
- At least one million new donors would
have to be recruited to replace the loss, said Richard Daly, chief medical
officer of the American Red Cross. New donors are more likely to have infectious
disease, he said. "It's likely therefore that taking this step in
the face of a theoretical risk may actually decrease the safety of the
blood supply," Daly said.