Canada Quarantines US Blood Plasma Because of
Fears of a Mad Cow-like Disease in the USA

Dec. 19/98
National Post
Mark Kennedy
Federal regulators have advised Canada's blood agencies to
quarantine thousands of vials of blood products linked to an
American donor who has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD.
The story says that the move was made as a result of concerns that the
donor may have a new, virulent strain of CJD that is associated with
``mad cow disease''
The story says that the quarantine comes after it was discovered in recent
days that a 29-year-old Utah man, who donated plasma nearly 100 times over
the last two years, has been diagnosed with CJD. His plasma was
fractionated by Bayer Inc. in the U.S. along with the plasma of other
donors into blood products and shipped for use within the U.S. and Canada.
Already, those products have been transfused by an unknown number of
However, near the end of the story, Dr. Graham Sher, vice-president of the
CBS, was cited as saying in an interview he has been told by officials
from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centres for Disease Control
that the Utah donor has classical CJDQnot the new variant, adding, ``They
have ruled that out.'' But Dr. Ganz said Canada's regulators are unaware
of any such conclusions and therefore called for the quarantine as a
``precautionary'' measure.
``We have some preliminary data, but no fixed data to indicate that the
diagnoses was with classical CJD,'' said Dr. Ganz.
Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and Hema-Quebec announced Friday they would
comply with the Health Canada advisory for a temporary ``hold'' on the
blood products. As well, hospitals throughout the country will be told not
to distribute any of the designated products on their shelves.
Pending the results of an emergency meeting Monday involving Canadian and
American regulators, federal officials say it is possible they will order
a permanent withdrawal of the productsQ a move that blood agency officials
fear could lead to a shortage.
Dr. Peter Ganz, chief of the blood and tissues division at Health Canada's
bureau of biologics, was cited as saying in an interview Friday that
regulators were alarmed by the age of the Utah donor, who is still alive.
The common form of the neurological disease, known as ``classical'' CJD,
typically strikes people in their 60s. Once the disorder strikes, it is
always fatal, and patients generally live less than a year.
Government regulators stress that although it's theoretically possible for
classical CJD to be blood-borne, there is no evidence that this is the
case, and there have been no known instances of people getting the disease
from blood transfusions.