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 (3,187 Responses)
  1. the argument podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. stuff you should know podcast


    June 26, 2021 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. bible project podcast

    After exploring a handful of the articles on your web site, I seriously like your way of writing a blog. I saved it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website too and tell me how you feel.


    June 26, 2021 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Senate Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. logan paul podcast

    Iím impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my hunt for something relating to this.


    June 27, 2021 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Church Leadership Podcast Watermark Hiring The Best


    June 27, 2021 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 토토사이트

    Thank you for another informative website. Where else may just I am getting that
    kind of information written in such a perfect manner?
    I have a venture that I'm just now running on, and I have been at the glance out for such info.

    June 27, 2021 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Amazon Leadership Principles


    June 27, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. spanish podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 02:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Personal Leadership Philosophy


    June 27, 2021 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. espn podcast

    Itís nearly impossible to find well-informed people in this particular topic, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 27, 2021 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. waddle and silvy podcast

    There's certainly a great deal to know about this issue. I love all the points you've made.


    June 27, 2021 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. www.pharmaceptica.com

    side effects of chloroquine https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 03:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. 대구출장

    When I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    June 27, 2021 at 04:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. free podcast music

    I was more than happy to uncover this site. I want to to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every bit of it and i also have you book-marked to see new things in your web site.


    June 27, 2021 at 04:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. National Society Of Leadership And Success Reddit

    Can I just say what a relief to find somebody that really knows what they are discussing on the net. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people ought to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you are not more popular given that you certainly have the gift.


    June 27, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. 대구출장안마

    This site was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Many thanks!


    June 27, 2021 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. steve bannon podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. sleepy podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Church Leadership Podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 먹튀검증

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I genuinely thought you'd have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you can fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    June 27, 2021 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. duolingo podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Krysten Bierkortte

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website so i came to “return the favor”.I'm attempting to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!


    June 27, 2021 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 먹튀검증사이트

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, however I actually believed you'd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could fix if you weren't too busy looking for attention.


    June 27, 2021 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Crave Freebies

    Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.


    June 27, 2021 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Camper Repairs Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. 부산출장안마

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly feel this site needs far more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!


    June 27, 2021 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Chevy G20 Van Repair

    After looking at a few of the blog articles on your site, I seriously like your way of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site too and tell me what you think.


    June 27, 2021 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 부산출장

    Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit once again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    June 27, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Conversion Van Repair Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Repair San Clemente California

    bookmarked!!, I love your blog!


    June 27, 2021 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Omar Faretra

    Woah! I'm really digging the template/theme of this site. It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's very hard to get that "perfect balance" between superb usability and visual appearance. I must say you have done a excellent job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very quick for me on Opera. Exceptional Blog!


    June 27, 2021 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Sprinter Van Ecu Repair


    June 27, 2021 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Jessie

    why cbd should be illegal


    June 27, 2021 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Rv Alignment Shop Near Me


    June 27, 2021 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Repairs Nearby

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch due to the fact that I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this topic here on your website.


    June 27, 2021 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. 2000 Chevy Conversion Van Body Repair Panels

    May I simply say what a relief to find someone that genuinely understands what they are talking about on the internet. You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people have to check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you're not more popular given that you certainly possess the gift.


    June 27, 2021 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Windshield Replacement Shop Near Me

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


    June 27, 2021 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. I Fashion Styles

    I was just seeking this information for some time. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your site. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that do not rank this type of informative sites in top of the list. Generally the top web sites are full of garbage.


    June 28, 2021 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Nearby RV Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. 먹튀검증커뮤니티

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, however I actually believed you'd have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.


    June 28, 2021 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. 먹튀검증

    I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I've got you book-marked to look at new stuff you postÖ


    June 28, 2021 at 03:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Technician Shop


    June 28, 2021 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. fun88

    Trực Tiếp đá Bóng Hôm Nay, Links Coi Bóng Đá Trực Tuyến 24h dangky.tluĐội tuyển chọn Việt Nam chỉ muốn một kết quả hòa có bàn thắng để lần thứ hai góp mặt trên World Cup futsal. Nhưng, nhằm thực hiện được như vậy


    June 28, 2021 at 04:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 울산출장마사지

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously think this web site needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the advice!


    June 28, 2021 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Nearby RV Repairs


    June 28, 2021 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Camper Repair Shop Near Me

    I love reading a post that can make people think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!


    June 28, 2021 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Mission Viejo


    June 28, 2021 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 울산출장안마

    This excellent website definitely has all of the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 28, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Rv Windshield Replacement Shop Near Me

    Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    June 28, 2021 at 12:10 | 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.