The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has reported a third case of variant-CJD (a brain disease that represents human form of mad cow disease) in Britain. The patient is said to have contracted the disease from a blood transfusion that had taken place 8 years ago.
The donor who had developed symptoms of the disease much earlier, 20 months following the transfusion is under strict medical supervision at the National Prion Clinic and is still alive, according to official reports.
Although the exact mode of transmission of vCJD remains largely unclear, the occurrence of vCJD in patients who had received blood transfusion suggests that transfusion from an infected donor could play a major role in the spread of the disease, in the opinion of Professor Peter Borriello, Director, Center for Infections, HPA.
The observation also calls for an improvement in the existing blood donation/ transfusion precautions to reduce the probability of transmitting such dangerous infections. All the three cases of vCJD diagnosed so far have a positive history of blood and blood components, excluding plasma derivatives.
Nearly 30 individuals have been reported to have received a blood transfusion from a donor who later developed vCJD in the U.K. All of these recipients had been alerted regarding their exposure. In addition, these individuals have been instructed to adopt certain precautions to minimize chances of transmitting the infection to others through surgery or other healthcare procedures.