Thousands warned over vCJD

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Thousands of patients were warned today they may have been exposed to vCJD through blood plasma products.

Thousands of patients were warned today they may have been exposed to vCJD through blood plasma products.

The Department of Health said more than 6,000 people would receive letters explaining the situation and to help minimise the possibility of passing on the brain-wasting disease.

But Health Secretary John Reid and Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said it was a highly precautionary measure and the risk of any of these patients developing vCJD was very small.

It follows the first possible case of a person dying after contracting vCJD through a blood transfusion, announced by Dr Reid last December.

This led to a ban on people who have received a blood transfusion since January 1980 donating blood in the future.

Then in July it emerged that another patient who received donated blood was found to be carrying the vCJD agent, although they died of unrelated causes.

A risk assessment was ordered to look at blood plasma products - derived from donated blood and used in products such as clotting agents to treat haemophilia and other bleeding disorders.

Today Sir Liam said that 6,000 people with these conditions would receive letters telling them about the risk assessment exercise.

He estimated the number who may be affected directly to be around 4,000 people.

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