Blood Donors With No
Symptoms Can Pass CJD -
Blood Supply Unsafe
By Zoe Morris
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 cattle brain.
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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