WASHINGTON, DC-The American Red Cross is worried about Mad Cow and its human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, infecting American blood supplies.
The organization is supporting new measures that would prohibit people who have spent more than six months in England or France from donating. Researchers do not know if Mad Cow or vCJD is transmitted through blood; however, they are not willing to take the chance.
There is no test for the disease, and as a precaution US health officials already ban people from donating if they spend six months or more in Britain from 1990-1996. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing the policy Thursday and may change the time period from 1980 to the present.
American blood centers are currently dealing with one of the worst blood shortages in the past year. These latest regulations could decrease donations by an estimated 5-6%. Blood banks are calling out for eligible volunteers to donate.
Both Mad Cow and human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease remain mysterious. Their cause and origin are unknow, although scientists think both are caused by misfolded proteins called prions.
More than 80 people have died in Europe from vCJD.
Information from Reuters