Thursday, March 5, 2009

Irish Create Helpline Over Mad Cow fears

IRELAND - THE DISCOVERY that a haemophiliac who died in Britain last year had evidence of variant CJD or vCJD infection has led to just over 30 people ringing a helpline specifically set up to respond to the issue. The helpline was aimed at people who had received UK-derived plasma products or had concerns about blood products they received. Two information meetings were held in Dublin and Cork at the weekend to further allay concerns and were attended by a handful of people. It emerged two weeks ago that the elderly man, who did not die from vCJD, was infected from a UK plasma-derived product known as Factor VIII. Haemophilia and related bleeding disorders are caused by a lack of clotting factors and are treated by products containing clotting factor concentrate such as Factor VIII. Since the late 1990s, Ireland has been using a synthetic clotting concentrate. On hearing the details of the man’s death, the National Haemophilia director Dr Barry White and the Irish Haemophilia Society’s Brian O’Mahony wrote to the 50 Irish patients who had received UK plasma-derived products to inform them of developments. Only two of those had received a product that was subsequently identified as being at risk of vCJD. Thousands of people in the UK have received products where some of the donors developed vCJD, but none of the recipients have developed symptoms. There have been 167 cases of vCJD in the UK and four in Ireland since the link between eating infected meat and a new variant of CJD was made in the mid-1990s. Some nine people who died of vCJD in the UK had donated blood for the manufacture of clotting factor concentrates.

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