Up to 1,000 people could die of the human form of “mad cow” disease
through infected blood given to them in British hospitals, ministers have
Government experts believe there is still a risk of people
contracting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) through blood
transfusions, as about 30,000 Britons are likely to be carrying the
brain-wasting illness in a dormant form — double the previous estimate.
They warn the current total death toll of 176 from vCJD could rise more
than five-fold as the infection has not been wiped out of the blood supply
like it has been in the food chain.
Frank Dobson, a former health
secretary, tonight urged ministers to develop a nationwide screening
programme for blood donors to stop future infections of vCJD, which has the
potential to cause “horrendous deaths”.
People are no longer in
danger of getting vCJD from eating British beef, after ministers ordered the
slaughter of millions of cows when the “mad cow” disease scandal broke in
1989. Fears that hundreds of thousands of people could contract the human
form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) proved unfounded.