In some parts of the world, cattle can get an infectious, fatal brain disease called Mad Cow Disease. In these same locations, humans have started to get a new disease called variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD) which is also a fatal brain disease. Scientists believe that vCJD is Mad Cow Disease that has somehow transferred to humans, possibly through the food chain.
There is now evidence from a small number of case reports involving patients and laboratory animal studies that vCJD can be transmitted through transfusion. There is no test for vCJD in humans that could be used to screen blood donors and to protect the blood supply. This means that blood programs must take special precautions to keep vCJD out of the blood supply by avoiding collections from those who have been where this disease is found.
At this time, the American Red Cross donor eligibility rules related to vCJD are as follows:
You are not eligible to donate if blood if:
You were a member of the of the U.S. military, a civilian military employee, or a dependent of a member of the U.S. military who spent a total time of 6 months on or associated with a military base in any of the following areas during the specified time frames
From 1980 through 1990 - Belgium, the Netherlands (Holland), or Germany
From 1980 through 1996 - Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece.
You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present, in any combination of country(ies) in Europe, including
in the UK from 1980 through 1996 as listed in above
on or associated with military bases as described above, and
in other countries in Europe as listed below:
- Czech Republic
- Ireland (Republic of)
- Kosovo (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
- Montenegro (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
- Netherlands (Holland)
- Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
- Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
- Yugoslavia (Federal Republic includes Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia)
More infnfo on Red Cross Website