5396(vCJD) - The Story
- Sep 2, 2000
(vCJD) - The Story Variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) What is vCJD? Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that was first described in the 1920s. About one third of patients initially express vague feelings of fatigue, disordered sleep, or decreased appetite. Another third have neurologic symptoms such as memory loss, confusion or uncharacteristic behaviour. The final third have signs such as loss of vision, poor muscle coordination or problems with speech. It involves a loss of mental and physical abilities.
Variant CJD has only been identified in the last few years. It is different in that it occurs in people with a mean age of under 30. The risk factors are unknown, except that we do know that the prion agent causing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or "Mad Cow" disease is the same agent causing variant CJD.
vCJD and Blood Donation
- If you are a regular blood donor, or have donated in the past, we need you now more than ever.
- As of September 30, 1999, CBS no longer accepts blood donations from donors who have spent a cumulative total of six months or more in the U.K. since 1980. This is as a result of growing concern about the theoretical transmission through blood of variant CJD.
- All CBS blood donors were notified by mail of the new policy.
- People who think that this policy may apply to them should not make the decision to stop donating on their own. The policy came into effect on September 30, 1999, and your local Blood Centre will be able to tell you whether or not you qualify to give blood.
- Donors are encouraged to call CBS toll-free at 1-888-760-8545 if they have questions.
- The situation will be monitored closely for any new scientific and medical developments.
The Krever/Safety Message: Why Defer?
- Justice Krever recommended that blood agencies should put safety first, even in the absence of definitive scientific proof of a risk.
The Impact on Donations
- The deferral was expected to cause an estimated three per cent loss of donors, which is thought to represent at least 20,000 units of blood. However, this is being offset through donor recruitment programs and initiatives to reduce the use of blood in hospitals.
- CBS has launched a donor recruitment program, part of which is aimed at youth, to increase the donor base. Early in the fall of 1999, CBS launched a major advertising campaign in conjunction with increased donor recruitment efforts by CBS Blood Centres.
- In the first 4 months, CBS experienced an 11% increase in blood donations, including gains in new donors, youth donors and former donors returning.
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