UK Officials Believe 15,000 Britons Are Incubating Human Mad Cow Disease (CJD)
The government's expert advisers assume that as many as 15,000 people in this country are infected with the prion infection agents that cause the lethal brain disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD), the human form of BSE or "mad cow disease". The experts don't know if this is the right figure. It could be a lot higher but ministers are refusing to fund trials of a new test to find out. So far just 200 of our fellow citizens have developed the disease. But the prions that cause the disease can lie dormant for decades and people who are infected pose a risk to others if they are blood or organ donors, or if surgical instruments used on them are then reused on other patients. The Medical Research Council Prion Unit at the UCL Institute of Neurology, led by Professor John Collinge, was set up at my behest to come up with ways to treat vCJD and, better still, prevent it. The...