Quebec’s blood supply agency says Health Canada has lifted a longstanding ban on blood donations in the province that stemmed from fear of mad cow disease.

Héma-Québec vice-president Dr. Marc Germain says it’s clear that there is now virtually no risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease through new blood transfusions.

For two decades, people who lived or travelled in the United Kingdom or France for long periods of time in the 1980s and 1990s have not been allowed to donate blood in case they were exposed.

Héma-Québec says the change will come into effect Dec. 4.

Canadian Blood Services has also asked Health Canada to lift the ban in the rest of the country.

It says Health Canada is expected to make a decision soon.

The United States and Australia both lifted similar bans in 2022.

Both Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec say they have turned away thousands of donors whose travel in the United Kingdom and Europe decades ago disqualified them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2021.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content.

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