Managing the risk of transmission of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease by blood products

Br J Haematol. 2006 Jan;132(1):13-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2005.05796.x.


Whereas plasma-derived clotting factor concentrates now have a very good safety record for not being infectious for lipid enveloped viruses, concern has arisen about the possibility that prion diseases might be transmitted by blood products. There is epidemiological evidence that classical sporadic Creutzfeld Jakob disease (CJD) is not transmitted by blood transfusion. There is now good evidence that the abnormal prion associated with variant CJD can be transmitted by transfusion of fresh blood components and infect recipients. To reduce the risk of the pathological prion in the UK infecting recipients of clotting factor concentrates, these are now only manufactured from imported plasma collected from countries where there has not been bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and the risk of variant CJD in the population is, therefore, considered negligible. The safety of these concentrates is also enhanced because prion protein is, to an appreciable extent, excluded by the manufacturing process from the final product. To help reduce the chance of prion transmission by fresh blood products, donations are leucodepleted, there is increasing use of imported fresh frozen plasma (especially for treating children) and potential donors, who have been recipients of blood since 1980 (the beginning of the BSE epidemic in cattle) are deferred.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood / microbiology
  • Blood Donors
  • Blood Transfusion / methods
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / transmission*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Prion Diseases / transmission
  • Transfusion Reaction*