|Title:||Deferral of Blood Donation from People who have been in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996|
|Document ID:||Operational Circular OP 1834/04|
|Date of issue:||Thursday, 2 September 2004|
|Status:||NO LONGER APPLICABLE|
|Description:||The purpose of this Operational Circular is to provide health care workers with information that will assist them to respond to questions raised by patients in relation to the national policy to defer blood donation from people who have been in the United Kingdom. This policy was implemented on 21 December 2000.|
|Period of effect:||from 2 September 2004|
|Authorised by:||Dr Shirley Bowen, Director, Communicable Disease Control Directorate, 25-Aug-2004|
|Print version:||View print version|
Deferral of Blood Donation from People who have been in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996
The purpose of this document is to provide health care workers with information that will assist them to respond to questions raised by patients in relation to the national policy to defer blood donation from people who have been in the United Kingdom. This policy was implemented on 21 December 2000.
The deferral of blood donation applies to those who have lived or travelled in the UK for a cumulative period of 6 months or more between 1980 and 1996. This period coincides with the epidemic of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle in the UK.
This policy was subsequently upgraded in July 2003 with the following addition:
The deferral of blood donors who have been transfused in the UK from 1980 onwards.
Infection with the BSE agent through eating infected meat is thought to be the cause of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).
Experimental published studies provide evidence that vCJD and BSE may be transmitted by transfusion in experimental animals. There has now been one case of potential transmission of vCJD from a donor to a recipient in the United Kingdom (as published in The Lancet1). The deferral of donations from those who may have been exposed to the BSE agent was, therefore, implemented as a precautionary measure to protect the blood supply, even though the risk to transfusion recipients in Australia is likely to be very small.
Donor deferral related to this policy has resulted in a substantial reduction in what is likely to be in Australia a very small risk to blood product recipients. We can never eliminate all risk - only reduce it. Therefore, risk reduction demands that we balance the need to address the unknown but possible risk of someone transmitting vCJD through blood donation against the real risk to the blood supply through unacceptably high loss of donors.
It is important to reassure patients who are concerned, either because they have visited the UK or because they have had a blood transfusion, that the possibility of their falling ill with vCJD is extremely remote.
The attached Blood Donor Deferral Fact Sheet provides answers to the most commonly asked questions about vCJD and blood donor deferral. Health care workers may find this information useful when providing information or advice to patients.
Copies of the Fact Sheet are available to the general public via the free-call Health Information Line for BSE on 1800 200 701 and on the website www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/strateg/bse.
Persons who are blood donors and are seeking more information should be advised to call the Australian Red Cross Blood Donor Information Line on 13 14 95.
Dr Shirley Bowen
BIBLIOGRAPHY / REFERENCES:
This circular last updated: Thursday, 2 September 2004 at 12:00am