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STUDY: Not Good
JOURNAL: The Lancet
ABSTRACT: Scientists have found evidence that the human form of mad cow disease can spread through blood transfusions.
COMMENTARY: The findings were made in response to the British Government's announcement last year that doctors might have found the world's first case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) caused by transfusion.
The Government said an unidentified patient had died after receiving blood from someone who was later diagnosed with vCJD. Doctors were unsure whether the illness had been caused by the transfusion or the eating of infected beef.
Two studies published yesterday in The Lancet medical journal showed infection through transfusion was possible.
Professor Robert Will, the author of one of the studies, said: "Our findings raise the possibility that this infection was trans-fusion-transmitted."
Variant CJD is the human equivalent of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, an incurable, degenerative brain disorder linked to eating meat infected with BSE.
The illnesses are caused when normal brain proteins, called prions, transform themselves into infectious agents.