There is no evidence that CJD is contagious through casual contact with a CJD patient.1 Also, the classic forms of CJD described in this section are not known to be connected with any food products.

Blood transfusions

Blood transmission of vCJD, but not of any of the classic forms of CJD, has been reported. In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in accordance with recommendations from its Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, published guidance outlining a blood donor deferral policy designed to reduce both the theoretical risk of transfusion transmission of classic forms of CJD and the risk of transfusion transmission of vCJD. The policy included excluding potential donors at increased risk of CJD, such as persons with a positive family history of the disease. The policy also included geographic-based exclusions of potential donors who might be at increased risk of infection with the vCJD agent.14

Surgical instruments

Because iatrogenic CJD can result from the use of contaminated surgical instruments, certain procedures can help lower this risk.

Guidelines on the prevention of iatrogenic exposure to pathogenic prions in the United States are available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site. These guidelines are largely based on a World Health Organization (WHO) Consultation on Caring for Patients and Hospital Infection Control in Relation to Human Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, March 1999. The CDC guidelines encourage a combination of autoclave and chemical methods for heat-resistant instruments and chemical methods for surfaces and heat-sensitive instruments.15

Genetic testing4

Familial disease could in principle be eradicated in a single generation by the use of prenatal genetic testing Another therapeutic approach is genetic engineering to neutralize the mutated gene that encodes the prion protein. In the future, familial CJD may be the first kind of CJD to be successfully treated.16

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