Dr. J. Jarrett Clinton, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, announced today new blood donor criteria for the Department of Defense. "To ensure the health and safety of servicemembers and their families, we are adopting additional precautionary measures against the very small theoretical risk of the human form of 'mad cow' disease, " said Clinton.
Effective Sept. 14, the DoD criteria will restrict from donating (1) anyone who has traveled or resided in the United Kingdom from 1980 through 1996 for a cumulative period of three months or more; (2) DoD-affiliated persons who have been stationed in Europe from 1980 through 1996 for a cumulative period of six months or more; (3) others who have traveled or resided in Europe from 1980 to present for a cumulative period of five years (applies to DoD personnel on or after Jan. 1, 1997); (4) anyone who has received a transfusion in the United Kingdom since 1980; and (5) anyone who has received bovine insulin produced in the United Kingdom since 1980.
DoD is following draft guidance from the Food and Drug Administration on restricting blood donors who may have been exposed to the agent that causes variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). The risk of vCJD transmission from human blood/blood products is theoretical-no cases of the disease have been transmitted in this manner, and no scientific study has established such a link.
Clinton advised, "DoD currently has enough blood to meet operational requirements as well as the requirements of our military medical treatment facilities." However, this precautionary restriction will disqualify an estimated 18 percent of active-duty personnel, not all of whom are donors. DoD will maintain its blood supply by increasing recruitment efforts to replace the restricted donors from the remaining pool of those eligible.
To encourage increased blood donation through the Armed Services Blood Program, DoD plans an information campaign in its internal media directed to its donor population and beneficiaries. The campaign targets blood collections at training bases to maximize collections from training commands and new recruits, who are unlikely to be affected by the new restrictions.