Mad cow disease timebomb as 30,000 feared to have disease

0
38


Half of Britain’s population carry genes which mean they could be incubating the ticking timebomb of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

And it could incubate within their bodies for another 10 or 20 years before they become a fresh wave of victims of the degenerative brain condition.

The shocking revelations are in the documentary Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal. The disease sparked Britain’s worst food crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Hundreds of thousands of cattle developed BSE after being fed infected meat and bonemeal.

Millions were slaughtered. But it was passed on as vCJD to humans who ate infected meat.

 

It can cause loss of balance and memory, hallucinations and shaking, and often death.

Richard Knight, Professor of Neurology at the CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh, has studied the infected brains of the 178 people it has so far killed.

He said: “There is still so much uncertainty about this disease and one of the things we are uncertain about is how many people in the UK are silently infected. At the moment we are simply not sure, but every indication we have is that there will be more cases.”

John Collinge, below, Professor of Neurology at The Prion Unit in London, found that all of the victims of vCJD from 1995 to 2005 had the same two genes passed from their parents.

Four years went by without new cases until 2009 when Grant Good-win, 30, of Hamilton, was found to have vCJD.

He died four months later. Grant was found to have a different genetic combination – shared by half the UK population – to previous victims.

It raised the nightmare scenario that millions of people who ate beef products between 1987 and 1996 could be infected without knowing it.

Prof Collinge says there may be 30,000 more victims.

Grant’s dad Tommy said: “The incubation period for Grant’s gene type is 30 to 50 years. So as far as I am led to believe there is a second wave of this illness just around the corner and the people that are incubating this have not even got a clue.”

 Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal, will be shown on BBC Two next month.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here