Scientists raise concerns about second wave of 'mad cow' prion infection


Leading experts address risk to global blood supply

Leaders in science, public policy and public health will discuss the "hidden" nature of TSEs, specifically "mad cow" disease and vCJD, its human form, at an Evening Symposium at the annual AABB blood conference in Baltimore on Monday, October 25. (The Symposium is particularly timely in light of news from France that the blood of a frequent donor, identified as the country's eighth victim of vCJD, was used for transfusions to 10 people and in the manufacture of medicines.)

  • They will present information suggesting that vCJD is not a disease in decline but in a period of incubation with the possibility of a global second wave.
  • The human-to-human threat may increase with recent evidence of at least two UK recipients of prion-infected blood transfusions from asymptomatic donors who later died of vCJD and analyses of the disease's probable amplification around the world, as the news from France may suggest.
  • New data on technology to prevent transfusion-transmitted prions is being presented.


  • Scientific presentation - Monday, Oct. 25, 2:45 pm, Baltimore Convention Center, Rm. 349/350.
  • Symposium - Monday evening, Oct. 25, 7:00 pm, Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Grand Ballroom 7. Sponsored by Pall Corporation. RSVP*
  • Limited phone-in capabilities - must be reserved. Contact B&Y Communications.*
  • Contact B&Y* for background information, to schedule interviews.

David M. Asher, MD. Supervisory Medical Officer, Division of Emerging and Transfusion-Transmitted Diseases, Office of Blood Research and Review, US Food and Drug Administration: Current status of TSEs in the US, update on surveillance and precautionary measures.

Roger Eglin, PhD. Head of National Transfusion Microbiology Laboratories, National Blood Service, England: Potential for a second wave of vCJD, its asymptomatic nature and long incubation, impact of donor deferral on the blood supply, how the UK is addressing the issue of prion-infected blood and potential next steps.

Dr. Peter R. Ganz. Director of the Centre for Biologics Evaluation (CBE), Health Canada: Potential risk of vCJD transfusion transmission in Canada, comparison of Canadian policies, surveillance and donor deferral measures with those of the US.

Laurie Garrett. Gates Senior Fellow in Global Health for the Council on Foreign Relations and distinguished American science journalist and author (Betrayal of Trust, The Coming Plague): The breakdown of public health systems, bioterror, emerging diseases, specific implications for vCJD.

Paul M. Ness, MD. Director, Transfusion Medicine, The Johns Hopkins Hospital; Editor-in-Chief, Transfusion; former president, AABB: Overview of benefits of universal leukocyte reduction and value of integration with prion reduction for safer and more efficient blood processing.

Sam Coker, PhD. Principal Scientist and Technical Director, Pall Medical: Results of new research on prion reduction by blood filtration technology: Scientific and Symposium presentations.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
    Published on All rights reserved.