Britons Agonize Over Danger of Blood Received from Mad Cow Disease Patients

by Gopalan on  May 17, 2009 at 10:27 AM General Health News
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 Britons Agonize Over Danger of Blood Received from Mad Cow Disease Patients
The Haemophilia Society, UK has called upon the government to test all patients at risk of the mad cow disease following the death of a haemophiliac.

Haemophilia is a blood condition in which an essential clotting factor is missing and sufferers bleed for longer than normal. Around 6,000 people are affected by the condition within the UK.

Figures released by the Department of Health state that 802 haemophiliacs received blood from patients who went on to develop variant Creutzfeldt-Jackob Disease (vCJD).

Health officials released the figures in response to calls from Lord Morris of Manchester, who demanded to know whether the Government had revised its assessment of the risk presented by contaminated.

A few days ago a haemophiliac in his 70s was found to be infected with vCJD after his death. Although the infection was not the cause of his death, he had been treated with blood from a donor who later died from vCJD.

Lord Darzi, Labour's health minister in the Lords, stated in a written answer to Lord Morris: "To date, 802 haemophilia patients are registered on the UK Haemophilia Centre Doctors' Organisation database as receiving clotting factors made from UK plasma pools containing a donation from a donor who went on to develop vCJD."

The Department of Health also revealed that 66 people who are not haemophiliacs have received blood components from donors who later went onto develop vCJD. Of these, 22 are still living, three died after contracting vCJD, and the others died from unrelated causes.

The mad cow disease, which destroyed Britain's beef industry in the mid 1990s, is believed to have been responsible for an estimated 164 deaths since 1995.

The brain-wasting disease vCJD was first detected in the mid 1990s and since then most vCJD patients are thought to have been infected after eating BSE-contaminated meat.

The number of vCJD deaths peaked in 2000, when there were 28. That number has dropped to about five a year since 2005.

The epidemic of BSE in the 1980s and 1990s was caused by cattle being fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat and bone meal, causing an infectious agent to spread.

More than four million cattle were slaughtered after almost 200,000 were infected with the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

Scientists recently warned that Britain could see a second wave of vCJD, affecting as many as 300 people, after discovering that genetic differences can affect how long it takes a person to incubate the disease, Telegraph reported.

Chris James, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, said: "We now know a much larger number of people have been exposed to higher-risk blood and blood product than was previously thought. vCJD remains an illness for which there is no test and no cure.

"It is just the latest in an increasingly long line of infections that people affected by bleeding disorders have been exposed to."

Almost 4,700 haemophilia patients were infected with hepatitis C after receiving contaminated blood products that were given during the 1970s and 1980s. Campaigners have been fighting for compensation from the Government over the scandal.

Source: Medindia

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