American Red Cross Statement on BSE (Mad Cow Disease) case in Washington State

American Red Cross
Wednesday, 24 December 2003

The American Red Cross is aware of information released yesterday regarding a presumed positive case of Mad Cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in Washington state. The investigation is being handled by the United States Dept. of Agriculture; therefore the American Red Cross is not currently in a position to evaluate this case.

This case is not variant Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluates vCJD risk, what blood donor deferral criteria should be, and what this case may mean.

The Red Cross believes deferral restrictions are prudent and necessary to help keep America's blood supply as safe as possible. It is our intent to follow the guidance of the FDA in these matters.

We will continue to work with the blood banking industry and the FDA to incorporate policies and procedures that help provide the safest possible blood supply. It should be emphasized that giving blood is safe you cannot contract vCJD by giving blood.

The Red Cross is urging donors to continue their commitment to giving blood and to encourage friends and family to donate blood. Those who can donate are asked to call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit givelife.org to schedule an appointment to donate.

For more information, or to contact American Red Cross, see their website at: www.redcross.org

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