BSE may be worse than thought

| Post published on June 2, 2006
minute reading time

People infected with vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob), the human form of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), may carry the disease for up to 50 years before symptoms develop a study published in the Lancet has revealed. A team of researchers at the University College London studied Papua New Guineans with a related disease called kuru (a prion disease related to cannibalism) in order to work out how long BSE may lurk in the body before it develops into vCJD. They found that genetic differences between people infected could affect the amount of time it took for the disease to develop. Professor John Collinge, who led the study, said “Recent estimates of the size of the vCJD epidemic based on uniform genetic susceptibility could be substantial underestimations”. An editorial in the Lancet stated: “Any belief that vCJD incidence has peaked and that we are now through the worst of this sinister disease must now be treated with extreme scepticism”.

Collinge J, Whitfield J, McKintosh E, Beck J, Mead S, Thomas DJ and Alpers MP. 2006. Kuru in the 21st century—an acquired human prion disease with very long incubation periods. The Lancet. 367, 2068-2074.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
I joined Viva! as a health campaigner in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. My scientific training helped me research and write numerous reports, guides and fact sheets for Viva! including Meat the Truth, Fish-Free for Life, One in Nine (breast cancer and diet) and the substantial report on the detrimental health effects of consuming dairy; White Lies. This accompanied Viva!’s report The Dark Side of Dairy which spelt out the inherent cruelty of dairy farming. We were the first UK group to take on the dairy industry in this way, and many of our supporters go vegan after reading these reports.

View author page | View staff profile

Scroll up