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Fear of CJD transmission spurs FDA to add new restrictions to blood donation.

As an extra precaution against the transmission of mad cow disease, the FDA will ban blood donation by anyone who lived or traveled in France or Portugal for a total of 10 years since 1980.

The agency already prohibits donations by anyone who spent a total of 6 months in Britain between 1980 and 1996, when that country was the epicenter of the mad cow crisis. The extended prohibition comes as the brain-destroying illness is spreading throughout Europe, with France and Portugal particularly hard-hit.

The American Red Cross, which collects half of the nation's blood supply, is considering implementing even stricter prohibitions. The organization is leaning toward refusing donors who spent just 3 months in Britain or 1 year anywhere else in Europe. These more restrictive regulations could worsen already tight blood supplies The Red Cross estimates its ban would cut nationwide blood donations by 6%, while the FDA's standards would decrease them by less than 1%.

The conflicting bans have competing blood banks concerned that patients will perceive the Red Cross policy as safer. As a result, they will have to follow suit, risking shortages by turning away longtime donors like military families.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is believed to spread by people eating infected beef, There is no proof it or its human counterpart, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD), spreads through blood. Tens of thousands of British cattle were infected with BSE in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and 91 Britons have developed nvCJD to date. BSE has not been found in American cattle, and no Americans have been diagnosed with beef-linked nvCJD.
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Comment:Fear of CJD transmission spurs FDA to add new restrictions to blood donation.
Publication:Transplant News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 28, 2001
Words:270
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