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Scientists raise concerns about second wave of 'mad cow' prion infection

East Hills, NY (Oct.26, 2004) - - There is increasing evidence that infectious prions that can cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of "mad cow" disease, can be transmitted through blood transfusion, according to Roger Eglin, Ph.D., Head of National Transfusion Microbiology Laboratories for the English National Blood Service. He spoke at a symposium on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) where he was joined by prominent government, public health and blood safety experts from around the globe, including the U.S. and Canada, who raised concerns about a second wave of the disease brought about by human-to-human transmission via blood transfusions.

The panelists convened to discuss the adequacy of safeguards and precautionary measures to prevent human-to-human transmission of this fatal, neurodegenerative prion disease at a symposium held last night at the annual AABB blood banking conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The symposium was sponsored by Pall Corporation (NYSE: PLL), the global leader in filtration technology.

Citing two confirmed cases in the UK, where vCJD was transmitted via blood transfusions from donors who were young and apparently healthy at the time of donation, Dr. Eglin said the current decline in reported cases could be followed by a new wave of vCJD infections around the world of unknown magnitude. These concerns were echoed by the panelists, who noted the increase of vCJD in France from six to eight cases in just the past few months and the news that blood from a vCJD-infected donor was transfused to 10 people and used to manufacture medicines.

"This may not be a disease in decline, despite the low number of cases today," said Dr. Eglin. "There is much uncertainty over the number of cases predicted for the UK. Estimates of up to 25,000 total cases have been predicted with an incidence of one in 24,000 of the UK population."

The second case of transfusion-transmitted vCJD in
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Contact: Laura Constable
laurac@bycommunications.com
973-746-8183
Pall Corporation
2-Nov-2004


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