Bloodborne Diseases

Author: Sarasvati

Many people know that drinking blood is really not the safest thing in the world, but at the same time close their eyes to the reality of just what causes it to be unsafe. A fact I find disturbingly common. For sanguinarians this can be a serious subject, and one that I have found few know that much about. I have broken the risks of blood-drinking into two pages, this one, on Blood-Borne Diseases, and a second on Other Blood-drinking Risks On to the info:


I would hope that this would be obvious, but I know that as soon as I say that there are those who do not know that AIDS is a blood borne disease. It is a pretty nasty one at that. AIDS is caused by HIV which is a retrovirus. This means that it infects the host cell by injecting its RNA, transcribing it to DNA, and then the DNA incorporates itself into the host DNA. Once incorporated it is EXTREMELY hard to get rid of, since it is then part of your own DNA. There is no known cure for AIDS currently and it is fatal. The virus itself is not fatal, however. What it does is attack the immune system of the infected person so it cannot respond to the virus. By killing the immune system it allows for other diseases to enter the body unhindered, which eventually kills the person. The person can feel perfectly healthy and be harboring the HIV virus. Outward signs do not appear, usually, until it has transformed into a full AIDS case. The difference in HIV and AIDS is that AIDS is when the T-cell (white blood cells in the immune response) drop below a certain level.

Since there is no known cure for this disease, the only way to protect yourself is to have your donor regularly tested, as well as yourself. Do not take their word that they are “clean” be sure to see the results before drinking from them. Though it is known that the digestive juices can kill the HIV virus, if you have any small cuts or scratches in your mouth or throat, bleeding gums, or a sore/burnt throat, it is possible to contract the virus before it even reaches your stomach. So, play it safe and don’t drink from someone who is infected.


There are multiple forms of this disease each with letter name designations (Hepatitis A, B, C, etc.).

Hepatitis A: Not blood borne, though does fall under Hepatitis category so I included it here. Infects the liver and causes yellow skin and eyes (jaundice), brown/tea colored urine, diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, and stomach pains. (From Hepatitis A fact sheet)

Again, testing. Also there is a vaccine for this disease as well as one to stop its effects if found soon enough.

Hepatitis B:
Symptoms are: tiredness, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, yellow skin and eyes (jaundice), dark-colored urine, and/or light stool. It is possible to be a carrier of Hepatitis B without ever showing any signs of it, and this is a common occurrence. It can be spread through blood to blood contact, but doesn’t have to. If the virus comes in contact with the eyes, mouth or mucus glands it can cause infection as well. (From Hepatitis B fact sheet)

TESTING! Also there is a series of vaccines available for this disease which came out recently. It can also be spread through other bodily fluids, so protect your self sexually as well.

Hepatitis C:
Can be infected from blood to blood contact. Also present in semen, vaginal fluids tears, and saliva. The most common and easiest way to get it is blood to blood contact. Like AIDS, it can enter the blood stream through tiny cuts and rough or burned places in the mouth. Symptoms are much like those for the other Hepatitis forms.

If you or your donor received a blood transfusion prior to 1992 have yourself tested for this disease. Red Cross Screening for this disease was only started in 1992 and so it is possible to have become infected from infected blood. Donors to the Red Cross were at no risk, however. Testing is most important to prevent Drink to Drinker spread of the disease.


Mostly known as a Sexually transmitted disease, it is a blood to blood spreader as well. Caused by a bacteria, unlike the previous diseases. Symptoms include rashes, headaches, sore throat, swollen glands, and large patches of hair loss. It can be spread from mother to child during birth, as well. Late stage infection can cause permanent heart, brain, skin and bone damage.

For the 50th time, TESTING!! It can also be treated with penicillin or other antibiotics. (From Syphilis Fact Sheet)


These are mutant proteins that cause “Mad-Cow Disease” (bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE), Scrapie (BSE in sheep), Crutzfjeld-Jakob Disease (BSE in humans abbreviated CJD, inherited), new variant CJD (abbreviated nvCJD, BSE and Wasting Disease in humans), Wasting Disease (in Elk, Deer, and other wild ungulates (deer-like animals), and Kuru (A form found in mostly cannibalistic societies). Essentially, the protein is ingested from contaminated blood or meat, travels to the brain, and mutates the “normal” prion proteins in the brain. As this continues, those mutated protein, make other mutated proteins and eventually your brain looks like Swiss-cheese. Causes neurological problems, forgetfulness, tremors, seizures, and eventually brain death. That’s the bad news, the good news is that BSE has not yet been found in the United States, and that the prion responsible for Scrapie (which IS in the USA) doesn’t appear to be able to infect humans. Contamination usually occurs when the animal is being killed, and the butcher passes the knife into neural (brain and spinal cord) tissue. This allows the prions to moves out onto the meat. Prions are EXTREMELY hardy for proteins…they can withstand high heat without loosing potency, freezing, and formaldehyde. For more detailed information, and the disease relation to cannibalism, see the article Prions, Kuru, Cannibalism, and Sanguinarians

Care. Be very careful. If you live outside the USA, I wouldn’t suggest butchers blood, inside the US, beef is all right, I would avoid sheep blood, though. Pig is the best, though, since swine do not seem to be susceptible to the prion proteins (because of this, it is still legal to feed by=products of cows and sheep to pigs, though it is illegal to feed cow and sheep byproducts to cows, sheep, and goats). Because of its presence in wildlife, if you get your blood while hunting wild deer, I wouldn’t drink the blood and be very careful how you butcher. There is no cure for nvCJD, and it takes awhile for symptoms to appear.

This list will be added to as time goes on. If there are other blood borne diseases that you know of please let me know as well so I can add them here. Thanks! Links used in the making of this page:

Center for Disease Control
AIDS Education Global Information System
Syphilis Fact Sheet

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