Portugal First To Screen Mad Cow/CJD From Blood Supply
LISBON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Portugal will start screening blood next year to reduce the risk of infection from the human equivalent of mad cow disease, a senior health official said on Friday.
Portugal will be the first country in Europe to take steps to screen blood for an agent that causes Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (CJD), said Jose de Almeida Goncalves, president of the state-run Portuguese Blood Institute.
``From April 1, 1998 blood banks will use filters to extract white cells in order to eliminate any risk of infection with CJD,'' Almeida Goncalves told Reuters. ``No one knows if a CJD epidemic is going to happen. Our action is purely precautionary,'' he added.
Doctors have said that Britain's national blood supply could be infected with a new strain of CJD. Britain is also considering removing white blood cells from donated blood and plasma.
Eight cases of CJD have been reported in Portugal so far this year, up from five in 1996 and two in 1995.
Better reporting may explain the sharp increase in the number of cases, Almeida Goncalves said. ^REUTERS@
16:49 12-12-97

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