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Eurosurveillance, Volume 7, Issue 51, 18 December 2003

Citation style for this article: Initial European Commission response to possible vCJD transmission by blood. Euro Surveill. 2003;7(51):pii=2346. Available online:

Initial European Commission response to possible vCJD transmission by blood

Editorial team (, Eurosurveillance editorial office.

Following the information made available yesterday by the UK Secretary of State for Health about the possibility of transmission of variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD) through a blood transfusion, the EC Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said that all circumstances surrounding this case needed careful examination before any conclusion could be drawn (1). At a meeting of the EC’s Communicable Disease Network on 17 December, a representative from the UK was requested to provide in depth facts about the case.

Many EU member states already have precautionary measures regarding blood products in place to reduce the chance of an incident like this occurring. This incident occurred before the British authorities had put in precautionary measures such as removal of leucocytes from donated blood.

The EU Commission proposed a directive on the safety and quality of human blood and blood products which was adopted by the European Parliament and Council one year ago (2). The Directive puts in place legally binding standards such as requirements for testing, labelling and traceability of blood and blood products, quality management systems in laboratories and other establishments handling these products as well as an EU-wide surveillance system. The directive entered into force in February 2003 and is required to be part of member states’ national law by February 2005.

The EU is financially supporting the development of a specific blood test for vCJD. Research into human prion diseases is a priority of one of the seven themes of the 6th EU Research Framework Programme 2003-6 (

For information on the European and allied countries collaborative study group of CJD, Edinburgh, see

  1. European Commission. Health and Consumer Affairs. Statement of Commissioner Byrne on possible vCJD transmission by blood. Press release IP/03/178, 18 December 2003. (|0|RAPID&lg=EN)
  2. European Commission. Safety of human blood: David Byrne welcomes adoption of directive. Press release IP/02/1919, 18 December 2002. (|0|AGED&lg=EN&display= )

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