Evidence is mounting that vCJD can be transmitted through blood transfusion in humans, according to research.
A nine-year study in sheep, published in the journal Blood, looked at transmission through infected blood in a bid to find out how vCJD – the human form of BSE – could be spread through transfusions.
The findings underline the importance of precautions against vCJD transmission, such as the UK government decision in 2004 to ban blood donations from anyone who has received a blood transfusion since 1980.
Researchers at the Institute of Animal Health found a 36% likelihood of BSE being transmitted between sheep through the transfusion of infected sheep blood.
Fiona Houston, who led the research, said: “It is apparent that the stage of disease incubation in infected donors played a large role in the likelihood of transmission.
“The longer that BSE had been carried by donors, the greater the likelihood of the disease being transmitted with transfusions of infected blood.”
There are concerns that up to 4,000 people may be carrying the disease in the UK, which could then be transmitted through infected blood causing further infections.
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