Blood imports may increase

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Intravenous news: UK safety advisers are considering increasing imports of blood to reduce the risk of further infections of variant CJD, the human form of BSE, through blood transfusions.

The move comes as the Health Protection Agency yesterday confirmed the first case of an NHS patient contracting the human form of BSE after being treated with infected blood products. The man, who was over 70, died from an unrelated condition after showing no symptoms of vCJD or any other neurological condition, but the infection was identified during a postmortem on his spleen.

Another four people are thought to have been infected by the long-incubating vCJD via blood transfusion before measures to remove more infective white cells were introduced a decade ago, but uncertainty remains about the size of the public health threat.

Increasing the importing of blood is one of the measures being considered by the government’s advisory committee on the safety of blood, tissues and organs (Sabto).

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