Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD)

  • Contaminated Blood Campaign
  • Most haemophiliacs have been notified that they are at an increased risk of having been exposed to the disease through contaminated blood products, although to date, vCJD has never been known to have developed in a recipient of blood or blood products.
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Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD)

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) is a rare and fatal human neurodegenerative condition. As with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, vCJD is classified as a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) because of characteristic spongy degeneration of the brain and its ability to be transmitted. vCJD is a new disease that was first described in March 1996.

Most haemophiliacs have been notified that they are at an increased risk of having been exposed to the disease through contaminated blood products, although to date, vCJD has never been known to have developed in a recipient of blood or blood products.  A haemophiliac has been identified at post morem of having the vCJD virus in his spleen, but there is no proof that this came from contaminated blood products and the patient was not thought to be actually suffering from vCJD.

A blood test is now available for vCJD says a report on 3 February 2012 in BBC News Health.  The report states that Chris James, from the Haemophilia Society said they would push for the test to be used as soon as it is clinically available: "The Haemophilia Society has long called for tests to be offered, in combination with pre and post-test counselling, to people with bleeding disorders who have been told they are at risk for public health purposes in relation to vCJD."

Mail Online reported on 5 February 2012 that an expert panel advising the Government suggests conducting 'covert health surveillance' of around 30,000 patients known to have received a high number of blood transfusions.  CBC will be calling upon the DoH for assurance that no one will be tested without their knowledge and consent. 

A fact sheet on vCJD is available from The World Health Organisation (WHO).