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Mad Cow Infected Blood 'To Kill 1,000'

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Mad Cow Disease page, CAFO's vs. Free Range page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

 Government experts believe there is still a risk of people contracting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) through blood transfusions, as about 30,000 Britons are likely to be carrying the brain-wasting illness in a dormant form - double the previous estimate.

They warn the current total death toll of 176 from vCJD could rise more than five-fold as the infection has not been wiped out of the blood supply like it has been in the food chain.

Frank Dobson, a former health secretary, tonight urged ministers to develop a nationwide screening programme for blood donors to stop future infections of vCJD, which has the potential to cause "horrendous deaths".

People are no longer in danger of getting vCJD from eating British beef, after ministers ordered the slaughter of millions of cows when the "mad cow" disease scandal broke in 1989. Fears that hundreds of thousands of people could contract the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) proved unfounded.

However, the Government acknowledges that one in 2,000 Britons - or approximately 30,000 people- are already "silent" carriers of infectious proteins that lead some people to develop vCJD. 

 A little-reported study last summer concluded the prevalence of this "silent" vCJD is likely to be twice as high as previously thought.

These 30,000 carriers can unknowingly pass on the infectious proteins - known as prions - to new potential sufferers through donated blood.

Because so little is known about vCJD, there is no telling which carriers will go on to develop the disease or whether any new cases will actually materialize at all. 


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