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FDA Vetoes Tighter 'Mad Cow' Blood Restrictions

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However, Paul Holland, MD, medical director of the Sacramento Blood Bank, fears that once a donor is turned down, that person won't come back. "We work extremely hard ... to get people to donate blood -- to do it again and again. And we're working harder and harder as we lose more and more of these 10, 20, 30 gallon donors," Holland tells WebMD.

Based on some reports, tainted blood is not as likely as tainted beef. Annick Alperovitch, MD, an epidemiologist from the Hospital de la Salpetriere in Paris, told the panel that based on her studies, it appears the three French cases are related to the import of contaminated British beef, as opposed to French citizens visiting Great Britain.

So a lingering concern is whether livestock still contaminated with mad cow disease have escaped the efforts of authorities to keep them out of the food chain. In addition to destroying hundreds of thousands of suspect cattle, authorities have tried to keep animals from eating contaminated feed. However, Linda Detwiler, D.V.M., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said European data showed Portugal, The Netherlands, and Belgium, as well as several other countries on the continent, had herds infected with the disease.

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