What causes transfusion-transmitted Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)?

Updated: Jan 15, 2017
  • Author: Mudassar Zia, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Two forms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) have been reported in the literature; namely, classical CJD and variant CJD (vCJD). The latter, vCJD, is a form of human bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that is transmissible through consumption of infected tissues or potentially via blood transfusions. Initially, there was evidence of vCJD transmission through blood transfusion in animal studies, and cases in which the prion disease resulted from the administration of blood products have been reported from high-prevalence areas in Europe.

An interesting fact to note is that people who have had transfusion-transmitted vCJD did not receive leukocyte-depleted blood. The prolonged asymptomatic phase and carrier states present a unique challenge with respect to prion disease in the context of transfusion medicine. In order to counteract this problem, donor deferral becomes critical. Donors in high-prevalence countries in Europe are being deferred permanently if they themselves received blood products after 1980. [71, 72, 73, 74, 75]

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