Alert after French blood donor develops vCJD

22nd October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 21 (AFP) - France said Thursday it was tracing 10 people who had received a blood transfusion from a person now diagnosed with the fatal, human form of mad-cow disease.

PARIS, Oct 21 (AFP) - France said Thursday it was tracing 10 people who had received a blood transfusion from a person now diagnosed with the fatal, human form of mad-cow disease.

The individual is the eighth French person to be diagnosed with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the health ministry said in a press release.

A ministry spokesman said the patient was "a young person who is still alive." The person's name, age and gender have been withheld.

The individual gave blood "several times between 1993 and 2003," the press statement said.

Ten people received transfusions of red blood cells from the individual "and will be told by their doctor as to the nature of the risk and the precautions to take," it added.

Plasma from the donations was also used by a French company, LFB, to make drugs based on blood derivatives, the statement said.

LFB has withdrawn all unused stocks of medications made with this plasma and has told pharmacies and clinics to take any remaining items made from suspect batches off their shelves, it said.

The ministry said the case of two people in Britain with vCJD pointed to an "increased risk" of contracting the disease through blood transfusion, although the risk of infection through blood derivatives remained unclear, pending the outcome of research.

vCJD is a human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in which a rogue prion protein proliferates in the brain, turning it spongy.

The disease is believed to have leapt the species barrier to humans who ate beef from infected cattle.

The epicentre of the BSE outbreak was Britain, which exported cattle and beef products to many countries within the European Union and further afield.

BSE came to the fore in the late 1980s but the source was only curtailed in1996 with the introduction of tough EU-wide laws on animal feed, the slaughter of suspect animals and the ban on the sale of animal parts most likely to have the prions.

So far 144 people have died of vCJD in Britain, where there are also five suspected cases, according to figures obtained Thursday on the official British vCJD website (http://www.cjd.ed.ac.uk).

After France, with eight cases, come Canada, Ireland, Italy and the United States, with one death each, according to official tallies.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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