Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) is a fatal and rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disorder caused by misfolded proteins, or prions, in the brain. Classic cases of CJD are usually sporadic, but some are genetically based (5-15%) and even fewer are iatrogenic (<1%). While the variant form of CJD (commonly referred to as “mad cow disease”) has been linked to transfusion-transmission in 4 cases, no cases of transfusion-transmission of classic CJD have been documented. Over the last 21 years, the American Red Cross followed blood recipients annually for cause of death who received blood from donors who were diagnosed with CJD after their donation. Since 1995, 65 donors later diagnosed with CJD (63 sporadic cases, 1 genetic, and 1 iatrogenic from a dura matter transplant) donated a total of 1816 total blood components of which 826 components were traceable for a total of 3934 person-years of follow-up. No cases of transfusion-transmission of classic CJD were observed. However, theoretically, the risk remains and the American Red Cross will continue to enroll and follow CJD positive donors.
- Cervenakova L. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and blood transfusion: safe or not safe? Transfusion 2017;57:1851-3.
- Crowder LA, Schonberger LB, Dodd RY, Steele WR. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease lookback study: 21 years of surveillance for transfusion transmission risk. Transfusion 2017;57:1875-8.