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Tuesday 6th December 2016
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Carrier risk of vCJD 'overestimated'

22nd May 2009

Research carried out by the Health Protection Agency has revealed that "far fewer" people in the UK are expected to develop variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) than previously expected.

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Earlier projections had proposed that there could be thousands of potential incubators of the disease in the UK population.

This led to the formation of the National Anonymous Tissue Archive in 2004 so that researchers could screen samples on a large scale.

The aim of the archive is to perform tests - carried out by the HPA and the National CJD Surveillance Unit - on 100,000 samples.

According to a study of 63,000 tonsil tissue samples published in the British Medical Journal, there was "no evidence" of vCJD.

Around 168 cases of the disease have been confirmed since 1995 in the UK, when it was first detected. It is thought to have spread from cows to people via the consumption of contaminated meat.

It causes changes to personality, the breakdown of bodily functions and death. Concerns have been raised about the possibilities that blood transfusions could pass on the disease from person to person.

Study leader Dr Jonathan Clewley, an expert on vCJD at the HPA, said: "It may be that we have seen the worst of vCJD already, although we need to keep vigilant and implement appropriate public health measures to prevent any possible secondary spread of disease."

 

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