Human Form of "Mad Cow" Disease More Widespread Than Once Thought

The Physicians Committee

Human Form of "Mad Cow" Disease More Widespread Than Once Thought

October 17, 2013

A variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of “mad cow” disease, is more prevalent than once thought, according to a new study published in this month’s British Medical Journal. Researchers analyzed 32,441 tissue samples from 41 British hospitals collected by the Health Protection Agency between 2000 and 2012. Each sample was tested for the proteins associated with vCJD. Results showed the number of people who carry the protein was double that of previous surveys. Little difference between age, sex, or geographic region indicates a more widespread infection of the overall population. An infected individual can incubate this form of the disease without exhibiting symptoms.

Gill ON, Spencer Y, Richard-Loendt A, et al. Prevalent abnormal prion protein in human appendixes after bovine spongiform encephalopathy epizootic: large scale survey. BMJ. 2013;347:f5675.

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