By KENT ATKINSON - NZPA, 21/04/2010
New Zealand's blood banks plan to reject donors with a record of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
The move follows research overseas which has raised concerns about the potential for a recently identified virus XMRV to spread through blood transfusions.
XMRV is a retrovirus, a kind of virus that inserts its genetic map into the cells it infects - something that can have a variety of effects, including killing the cell or turning it cancerous by affecting its genetic makeup.
It was first detected in prostate cancers in 2006 and has been found in 27 percent of such tumours, especially aggressive tumours.
There is now conflicting evidence surrounding a link to CFS, which is also known as ME in New Zealand where there are reported to be 20,000 sufferers.
Canadian authorities have already imposed a lifetime ban on former CFS patients donating blood.
They took the precautionary step earlier this month, based on US research that showed the retrovirus may be transmissible through infected blood.
Across the Tasman, Australia's Red Cross Blood Service is also reviewing its donation guidelines.
The national medical director for New Zealand blood banks, Peter Flanagan, told NZPA the NZ Blood Service (NZBS) would be adopting a similar approach to that being developed by the Canadian blood services.