30,000 may carry human form of mad cow
October 15th, 2013
04:06 PM ET

30,000 may carry human form of mad cow

Up to 30,000 people in Britain may be silent carriers of the human form of mad cow disease, according to new research published Tuesday.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) is the human form of the fatal brain-wasting disease found in cows called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) - better known as mad cow disease.  So far there have only been 177 confirmed human cases in the United Kingdom, according to the study. Forty-nine more cases have been reported in 11 other countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Previous research suggested maybe 1 in 4,000 people living in Britain were carrying the protein that causes vCJD, says Dr. Sebastian Brandner, one of the study authors and head of the Division of Neuropathology at Queen Square, one of the largest academic neuropathology departments in the UK. But that estimate was made using a smaller sample, says Brandner.

This new study, published Tuesday in the medical journal BMJ, was much larger. Researchers studied appendix samples from 32,441 people and found 16 that tested positive for vCJD. Given that population of the United Kingdom is a little over 60 million, Brandner says that means about 1 in 2,000 people - or roughly 30,000 people total - have this potentially lethal prion.

Brandner says the peak of mad cow disease was in 1992, and the peak of the human form of mad cow disease occurred in 2000. This suggests there is an 8-year incubation period for the disease. However, his research has revealed that there are at least three different forms of the prion protein linked to vCJD, which might explain why more people haven't become sick with the disease - yet.

"These people may harbor that [vCJD] for a longer time; they may develop a different type of prion disease; they may be silent carriers," says Brandner.

He says there's one definite concern: that these silent carriers may be potentially transmitting the disease.

There is no blood test to detect vCJD, so someone could unknowingly pass the prion protein on to others when they give blood, and prions are not destroyed by standard sterilization methods usually used for surgical instruments – only harsher, stronger sterilization procedures will kill them.

According to WHO, the human form of mad cow disease was first reported in the United Kingdom in March 1996 and the first cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was first reported in the United Kingdom in 1986.  More than 184,000 cows in the UK were eventually confirmed to have BSE.

The average age of death for vCJD is about 28 years, according to the CDC, which is one way it distinguishes itself from classic Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease; classic CJD emerged more than a century ago and affects older people. The average age for this disease, which is not linked to the consumption of meat from cattle with BSE, is 68.

In an accompanying editorial in the journal, Roland Salmon, a retired consultant epidemiologist, argues that vCJD is not yesterday's news because there are many questions that still need to be answered. He notes that blood tests that could be used widely for screening and diagnosing vCJD are still elusive. He also suggests that the number of precautions taken to secure the blood supply to prevent transmission (which can be costly) needs to continue, because even though there have been only 171 cases of vCJD in the UK, this new research confirms that there could be more cases in the futures.  

Salmon also points out that the UK has been leading in the field of prion research in animal and human diseases. Since more research is needed,  “further disinvestment [in this type of research] would be premature.”

soundoff (3,182 Responses)
  1. Video Marketing Business

    Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to come back yet again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    June 24, 2021 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 출장안마

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the website is very good.


    June 24, 2021 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. SEO Marketing Companies Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Air Conditioning Repair Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 02:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Social Media Marketing Consultants

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be exciting to read content from other writers and use a little something from other websites.


    June 24, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Digital Marketing Firm


    June 24, 2021 at 02:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 부산출장

    Excellent article. I certainly love this website. Keep writing!


    June 24, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. LA Vape and Smoke

    Has anyone ever shopped at MistHub? 🙂


    June 24, 2021 at 04:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Plumbing Repair Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 04:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. studio apartments near me


    June 24, 2021 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 부산출장

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return once again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    June 24, 2021 at 05:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. 출장마사지

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always helpful to read articles from other writers and use something from other websites.


    June 24, 2021 at 05:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Corey Clougher

    How do you copyright content on your site (Webcomic specifically)?


    June 24, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Repair Near Me

    Good write-up. I absolutely love this website. Stick with it!


    June 24, 2021 at 05:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Google Marketing Companies

    Very good write-up. I absolutely love this website. Keep writing!


    June 24, 2021 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. 부산출장

    I blog frequently and I genuinely appreciate your content. This article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your Feed as well.


    June 24, 2021 at 05:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Dannette Honanie

    I want to write and I wonder how to start a blog for people on this yahoo community. .


    June 24, 2021 at 06:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Clarisa Goetting

    how can i start a blog without having my own website?


    June 24, 2021 at 06:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. 출장마사지

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't disappoint me just as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I really believed you would have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.


    June 24, 2021 at 08:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Google Marketing Service


    June 24, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 출장마사지

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own website now 😉


    June 24, 2021 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 출장안마

    Saved as a favorite, I love your website!


    June 24, 2021 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 케이출장

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and also the rest of the website is very good.


    June 24, 2021 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 출장마사지

    I truly love your site.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my own blog and would love to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Kudos!


    June 24, 2021 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 출장마사지

    Wonderful post! We are linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.


    June 24, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 출장마사지

    There is definately a great deal to find out about this issue. I like all the points you've made.


    June 24, 2021 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Local Marketing Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Repair Near Me Now


    June 24, 2021 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Repair Centers Near Me

    Your style is really unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.


    June 24, 2021 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Chassis Repair Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. SEO Marketing Specialist


    June 24, 2021 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Social Media Marketing Service


    June 24, 2021 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. 부산출장안마

    This page truly has all the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 24, 2021 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. 부산출장

    Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    June 24, 2021 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Social Media Marketing Services


    June 24, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Google Marketing Agency

    You have made some good points there. I checked on the internet for more info about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.


    June 24, 2021 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. 출장마사지

    When I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thank you!


    June 24, 2021 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. 부산 출장마사지

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    June 24, 2021 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. 케이출장

    Great information. Lucky me I ran across your website by accident (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!


    June 24, 2021 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Parts And Repair Near Me


    June 24, 2021 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Mission Viejo


    June 24, 2021 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. 출장

    I need to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I have you book marked to look at new things you postÖ


    June 24, 2021 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. 부산출장

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't fail me as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, however I genuinely thought you would have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.


    June 24, 2021 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Santa Ana


    June 24, 2021 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 부산출장마사지

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 24, 2021 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. 부산 출장

    Very good post. I absolutely appreciate this site. Stick with it!


    June 24, 2021 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. oc rv dealers


    June 24, 2021 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Very good article! We will be linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the great writing.


    June 24, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 출장마사지

    After checking out a number of the blog articles on your web site, I truly like your way of blogging. I book marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site too and tell me your opinion.


    June 24, 2021 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. 출장안마

    I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!


    June 24, 2021 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.