The United Kingdom government has been swift to react over fears that haemophiliacs were treated with blood products from a man who died of nv (new variant) Creuzfeld Jacob Disease, the human variant of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), otherwise known as “”. The British government banned the use of British plasma in the manufacture of blood products in 1998, but since nv Creuzfeld Jacob Disease (nv CJD) can take up to thirty years to produce symptoms, it is the patients who were treated before 1998 who are at risk. Britain’s 10,000 haemophiliacs will remember the health crises in the 1980s, when 4,800 haemophiliacs caught hepatitis C and 1,200 were infected with HIV due to the use of faulty blood products. Although to date apparently no victims of nv CJD have been infected in British hospitals, there is no reason to suspect that the behaviour of this disease should be any different from HIV or hepatitis. Lord Morris of Manchester, the President of the British Haemophilia Society, stated: “ The society is doing all it can to counsel families that have cause to believe they were affected. The implications are very serious.” Junior Health Minister Lord Hunt said it was too early to produce figures about the risks but he stressed that any such statistics continue to exist only in theory until firm evidence of cases is produced. “We would stress that any risk of transmission of nv CJD through blood products is theoretical. There have been no reported cases of nv CJD among the haemophilia community.” It should be pointed out that the British government is doing all it can to provide counselling for the families of those who think they may be at risk and that this disease is only now starting to be understood. The problem is how much damage has it already done in its “invisible” phase and can tragedy be avoided in other countries who can learn from the mistakes made in the EU countries?


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