Wednesday, October 16, 2013

1 in 2,000 British people may carry 'mad cow' disease

Posted by Neill Abayon

Around 1 in every 2,000 people in the UK may carry variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) proteins, more commonly known as "mad cow" disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This is according to a study published in the BMJ.

 Variant CJD is a fatal degenerative brain disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the median duration of illness from vCJD is 14 months, while the median age at death from the disease is 28-years-old.

The illness was first described in the UK in 1996 and is thought to have resulted from transmission of infection from BSE in cattle to humans through meat products.

According to the team of UK researchers, there have been 177 clinical cases of vCJD to date in the UK.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been only three cases of vCJD reported in the US between 1996 and March 2011. However, previous studies have estimated that around 1 in 4,000 people may carry vCJD prions.

There is uncertainty surrounding the number of people who will eventually develop the disease, and it is unclear whether carriers risk transmitting the disease through blood transfusion or surgery.

Because of these cloudy areas, the researchers wanted to conduct a survey in order to more accurately determine how many people in the UK could be carriers of vCJD, and to identify the genotype of the carriers.

The research team analyzed more than 32,000 appendix samples over 41 hospitals from people who had their appendix removed between 2000 and 2012. 

More here.


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