'More at Risk from Mad Cow Disease Than Thought'

Article excerpt

Many more people may be at risk of contracting vCJD than previously thought, according to research out today. A long incubation period for the disease, together with an ability to pass it on through blood transfusions and surgical instruments, has the potential to create a 'significant public health issue', scientists from Edinburgh said.

Through studies on mice, they concluded that variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) could lie in the body for many years without showing any symptoms.

Due to long incubation times for the disease, a 'significant level' of underlying vCJD may already be present in the population, they said.

The experts also found that vCJD could be passed from human to human through secondary transmission - such as blood transfusions and contaminated surgical equipment - 'with relative efficiency'.

The study, published on-line by The Lancet Neurology, said people may not know they have the agent for vCJD and thus there is a risk 'of further disease transmission' through blood transfusions or equipment. …