Document Directory

15 Nov 00 - CJD - Human CJD epidemic will be worse than expected
15 Nov 00 - CJD - Beef on the bone off the menu as Jospin bows to French fears
15 Nov 00 - CJD - Captive big cat died from feline form of BSE
15 Nov 00 - CJD - France bans T-bone steak in BSE emergency
15 Nov 00 - CJD - France imposes bonemeal ban to counter BSE
15 Nov 00 - CJD - Injured lion destroyed by zoo had feline BSE
15 Nov 00 - CJD - Major the lion suffered from feline BSE
14 Nov 00 - CJD - Consumer fears trigger new beef curbs across EU
14 Nov 00 - CJD - France acts on BSE
14 Nov 00 - CJD - French ban own T-bone steaks
14 Nov 00 - CJD - Jospin forced into U-turn over BSE
13 Nov 00 - CJD - French act to calm BSE fears
13 Nov 00 - CJD - CJD risk in tonsil surgeons' equipment
13 Nov 00 - CJD - 'Surgical instruments spread CJD'
13 Nov 00 - CJD - Millions Of Cows To Face BSE Test
13 Nov 00 - CJD - Beef fears reach barracks
12 Nov 00 - CJD - Britain faces BSE claims by French
12 Nov 00 - CJD - French BSE crisis worsens
11 Nov 00 - CJD - Sufferers share 'safer' blood to beat rationing
11 Nov 00 - CJD - Bison farmers beef up supply with imports
11 Nov 00 - CJD - French minister rejects cattle cull
11 Nov 00 - CJD - Urgent appeal over French BSE outbreak
10 Nov 00 - CJD - Swiss ban on blood donors in CJD fear
09 Nov 00 - CJD - Inquiry now closer to confirming BSE links
09 Nov 00 - CJD - French farmers call for slaughter
09 Nov 00 - CJD - No answer found on CJD cluster
09 Nov 00 - CJD - Inquiry links cluster of CJD deaths to common source of meat
09 Nov 00 - CJD - Checks on beef chain in area hit by vCJD

15 Nov 00 - CJD - Human CJD epidemic will be worse than expected

BBC Radio news at midnight

BBC ... Wednesday 15 November 2000

BBC Radio News Report.

The theory about a certain proportion of the population (two thirds was quoted) being genetically resistant to BSE has been disproved. Research into 11 elderly cases of KURU indicates that the disease just takes longer to develop in such people.

This could extend the BSE epidemic by decades and dramatically increase the human fatalities.

15 Nov 00 - CJD - Beef on the bone off the menu as Jospin bows to French fears

Jon Henley in Paris

Guardian ... Wednesday 15 November 2000

The French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, bowed to mounting public panic and the populist savvy of President Jacques Chirac yesterday by banning beef on the bone and suspending the use of animal-based meal in all livestock feed.

Among a raft of measures aimed at calming consumer fears over mad cow disease, Mr Jospin also announced random tests on cattle entering the food chain and a tripling of funds for research into BSE, linked to the fatal brainwasting ailment in humans, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

"The government has decided to suspend the use of meat and bone meal in feed for pigs , chickens , fish as well as domestic animals ," the prime minister said. "This temporary and general ban appears technically possible and acceptable from a public health standpoint."

A decision on a permanent ban on animal-based meals, a step taken by Britain in 1996, would be made once the national food safety agency, Afssa, had assessed the possible risk associated with them, he said, probably in about three to four months' time.

Aware that the drastic new precautions might serve only to fan French fears, Mr Jospin sought to reassure consumers about the spread of BSE and about food safety in general, saying there was "no scientific proof at present to suggest that eating beef or drinking milk poses a health risk".

But he added that cote de boeuf and several other prized French cuts of beef were being banned because the infectious agent that causes BSE could exist in the bone that comes with them, despite government precautions.

Beef sales have plunged by as much as 50% in France and school meal services throughout the country have withdrawn the suspect meat from canteen menus since it emerged last month that several large supermarket chains had unknowingly sold potentially infected cuts.

Consumer concern has been further fuelled by a sharp increase in the number of cattle found to have been suffering from mad cow disease, which under a more thorough and systematic screening system has jumped from 31 in all of 1999 to more than 90 so far this year.

(mad cow correspondents note: one can only wonder what the results would be if such testing were released in the UK, but the UK Government doesn't want to tell. Sadly, after the Philips whitewash which let the guilty parties off the hook, money is still more important to civil servants than human lives)

According to a poll published this weekend in the Journal du Dimanche, 70% of the French are worried about animal-based feeds, which were banned for cattle in France in 1990, and nearly 80% want an immediate ban.

Most French cases of BSE have been traced to "cross-contamination " - cattle that have been fed, either deliberately or accidentally, with animal-based meals intended for livestock like pigs or chickens.

The moratorium on the use of meat and bone meal marks a political defeat for the prime minister, who described the panic gripping French con sumers as "a national psychosis" and favoured what he termed the "more calm and rational approach" of waiting for Afssa's expert opinion before taking such a drastic step.

Last week he underlined the major problem of banning the materials, saying France would be forced to incinerate three times as many animal carcasses as it does now: the pollutants like dioxin that entered the atmosphere as a result would represent a more serious health hazard than the original feed, he said.

But Mr Jospin was outmanoeuvred by Mr Chirac, who grasped perfectly the mood of the French public last week and, to the prime minister's fury, publicly demanded an immediate ban on animal-based meals. The Green party and the Communists, both members of the ruling Socialist-led coalition, subsequently joined the call, leaving Mr Jospin no choice .

The decision is not without consequences . France produces around 430,000 tonnes of meat and bone meal each year, and French newspapers put the cost of banning the products at between £300m and £500m . Some 870,000 tonnes of feed will have to be stocked and incinerated, and France will need to increase dramatically its imports of soy to replace the banned protein-rich products.

Mr Jospin said Paris would also ask the European commission in Brussels to examine how domestic output of oilseeds and other sources of vegetable protein could be boosted.

That, however, could risk triggering a new trade row with the United States by violating the 1992 Blair House accords, which limit the amount of oilseeds the European Union is allowed to plant.

15 Nov 00 - CJD - Captive big cat died from feline form of BSE

Geoff Gibbs

Guardian ... Wednesday 15 November 2000

A lion from a west country zoo was suffering from the feline version of mad cow disease when it was put down this year.

Staff at Newquay zoo in Cornwall disclosed yesterday how Major, a 12-year-old male, was put to sleep in August after failing to recover from injuries sustained in a fight with another lion several years ago. But results of a post mortem showed he was suffering from feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE), the cat equivalent of BSE.

Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in London were told of the case after samples from its brain were tested.

But a Maff spokeswoman said the case was not felt to be a concern. "These animals don't go into the food chain. You are more at risk of getting mauled by a lion than getting BSE from one."

The zoo's managing director, Mike Thomas, said staff had had no idea that the animal had the disease. "I expect it would have had to come from Major eating part of a whole carcass as it is the brain and spinal cord which carry the disease."

Although cases of FSE in big cats in Britain are not unprecedented, Major is only the third lion confirmed to have suffered the disease. Official figures show a variety of exotic species have succumbed to BSE-type illnesses since the first recorded death of a zoo animal from such a disease in June 1986.

Most of the deaths have occurred among the species, with tigers , ocelot , puma and cheetah all falling victim. Isolated cases have also been reported among ruminants .

Major arrived at Newquay after fights with an older male at the safari park. When conventional treatment failed to work staff called in a local faith healer to try to cure the spinal problems Major had been left with as a result of the fighting. But the lion's health continued to deteriorate and he was put to sleep three months ago.

Keith Harris, head warden at Longleat, which boasts 25 lions, said the park had not had any problems with FSE.

15 Nov 00 - CJD - France bans T-bone steak in BSE emergency

By Emmanuel Georges-Picot in Paris

Independent ... Wednesday 15 November 2000

Amid spiralling fears about mad cow disease, France's government announced yesterday that it was banning beef on the bone, including T-bone steak - the second speciality to be cut from menus in a week.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said the government was also temporarily banningall livestock feed containing meat to prevent the spread of the disease.

Fears about the animal disease and its health risks to humans have surged recently in France since an announcement that potentially infected meat had made it to supermarket shelves before being hastily withdrawn. After the announcement, many French school districts banned beef in cafeterias, and more people have been eating chicken and fish.

Mr Jospin said the T-bonewould be banned immediately . Other new measures include banning cow vertebrae and a review of abattoir practices to reduce any chance of banned animal parts getting into meat. On Friday, France banned sweetbreads, a delicacy made from a cow's thymus gland.

Concern about French cows has spread to Italy , where the Agriculture Minister threatened to halt most beef imports from France if the European Union failed to block exports. Some Italian cities also began taking beef off school menus as a precaution.

BSE is believed to be linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Two deaths from the disease are known in France, compared with more than 80 in Britain, where mad cow disease peaked several years ago. (AP)

15 Nov 00 - CJD - France imposes bonemeal ban to counter BSE

By Harry de Quetteville in Paris

Telegraph ... Wednesday 15 November 2000

A seven-step French "battle plan" to fight the spread of mad cow disease and its vCJD human form was launched yesterday by Lionel Jospin, the Prime Minister.

Most significant was an immediate ban on feed containing bonemeal for all animals destined for human consumption, including pigs, poultry and fish. Until now bonemeal, thought to be one of the main transmitters of BSE, has been banned only in cattle feed.

Other measures included outlawing T-bone steaks and extending a BSE testing programme now operating in parts of France to the whole country. Public response to the T-bone ban is likely to be limited because it is not a popular cut.

Spot checks will also be made among all cattle being slaughtered, although Jean Glavany, the agriculture minister, has made clear that systematic screening is logistically impossible. M Jospin denied that the plan came in response to calls last week by President Chirac for the immediate outlawing of bonemeal in feeds.

Unlike M Chirac, who has simply echoed public concerns, M Jospin has had to strike a delicate balance by responding to consumer panic without adding to it. He said: "There is no scientific evidence to suggest any risk in the consumption of meat or milk from cows."

The ban imposed on bonemeal feeds is officially a temporary measure, until the French food safety agency makes a recommendation in a few months. But the feeds are highly unlikely to be reintroduced , necessitating a wide-scale rethink of agricultural production in France, where up to five per cent of animal feed is made up of meat proteins.

These will now have to be replaced by huge imports of vegetable proteins from North America. The stocking and eventual destruction of the bonemeal feeds will cost up to £400 million . Yesterday's measures met with approval across the political spectrum, including the anti-globalisation leader, Jose Bove.

He said: "I would have preferred it to happen 10 years ago but I am still content that the authorities have finally understood that only these measures can guarantee quality meat."

Some opposition MPs claimed a government climbdown. Patrick Devedjian, spokesman for the Gaullist RPR party, said: "Jacques Chirac was right eight days ago and we can see that today."

The Tories called yesterday for a ban on imports of French beef. Although the European Union has not yet restricted exports, Tim Yeo, the shadow agriculture minister, called for unilateral action to keep "sub-standard imports" out of the UK.

15 Nov 00 - CJD - Injured lion destroyed by zoo had feline BSE

By Richard Savill

Telegraph ... Wednesday 15 November 2000

A lion who was destroyed by zookeepers after failing to recover from back injuries was suffering from the feline equivalent of mad cow disease .

A post-mortem examination by the Ministry of Agriculture vet found that 12-year-old Major had feline spongiform encephalopathy. He was injured in a fight with another lion at Newquay Zoo, Cornwall.

Michael Thomas, the zoo manager, said the findings, three months after Major's death, had left staff shocked and surprised . He said: "I would expect that it would have had to come from Major eating part of a whole carcass because it is the brain and spinal cord which carry the disease."

A Ministry of Agriculture spokesman said: "We are quite confident that animals that have contracted spongiform encephalopathy had been infected prior to feeding controls put into effect in the late 80s. Vets say there will be one or two cases a year until the older animals die out."

15 Nov 00 - CJD - Major the lion suffered from feline BSE

By Simon De Bruxelles

Times ... Wednesday 15 November 2000

Major the lion , which had to be put down after vets and a faith healer failed to cure his bad back, was suffering from a form of mad cow disease, it was disclosed yesterday.

Vets thought the 12-year-old lion, star attraction at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, had become lame as the result of an old back injury.

But despite attempts to cure him using conventional medicines, a magnetic collar and even a faith healer, his condition deteriorated and he was put down by zoo staff in August.

A post mortem examination by a Ministry of Agriculture vet has now revealed that Major was suffering from Feline Spongiform Encephalopathy, or FSE.

Mike Thomas, the zoo's manager, said staff were shocked by the findings. No one had suspected he was suffering from the disease.

Mr Thomas said: "It wasn't until we saw the results that we discovered he had FSE. It was never obvious that he had it. We had him put down for totally different reasons."

The lion may have contracted the disease from offal, possibly during his time at Longleat safari park in Wiltshire, where he was bred.

Keith Harris, the headkeeper at Longleat, said Major could have contracted FSE before restrictions on offal were imposed in 1989.

He said: "The Ministry of Agriculture made a directive in 1989 to stop feeding offal, spinal cord and brains to them.

"Major was born and bred here and went to Newquay around three or four years ago. He was getting a lot of stick from other males in the pride and it was quite handy to give him to Newquay Zoo. We do not have any problems to date here at Longleat."

Major's half-brother Ronnie, 15, has gone to Newquay from Longleat to take Major's place.

Mr Thomas said he was concerned for the health of the lion. He said: "Clearly this is going to be of utmost concern to our keepers and we will be keeping a close eye on him."

Since 1976 at least 16 big cats including pumas , lions , tigers and cheetahs , have died from BSE-related illnesses at zoos and safari parks in Britain.

A Ministry of Agriculture spokeswoman said: "Vets say there will be one or two cases a year until the older animals die out. The animals were fed on high risk material before 1989."

14 Nov 00 - CJD - Consumer fears trigger new beef curbs across EU

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Independent ... Tuesday 14 November 2000

Brussels is proposing millions more tests for mad cow disease across Europe, in a drastic response to the growing consumer panic over beef in France and the continent.

The European Commission said yesterday a plan to extend its screening programme to millions of slaughtered older cattle will be discussed by experts from the 15 member states next week. Brussels hopes to see tests of the carcasses of "all older cattle in the EU". That implies testing could be applied to all dead cattle aged over 30 months, although officials are not sure all nations will agree.

"There could be a different degree of testing in different countries," said one source. David Byrne, the European commissioner for health and consumer protection, said the new package will "increase information and transparency to the consumer and further strengthen our controls ".

The discovery in France of more than 90 cases of BSE, which has been linked to the fatal human brain disease variant CJD, has caused a consumer revolt as schools, in Belgium and Switzerland as well, removed beef from their menus .

Although the incidence of mad cow disease is much lower than in Britain, it is rising fast: last year just 31 cases weredetected.

The present testing regime, which becomes mandatory in January next year, foresees about 170,000 post-mortem tests focusing on animals thought to be at risk. France began its programme in the summer , thereby uncovering the higher than expected tally of cases.

On Friday, Mr Byrne asked member states to introduce the existing programme of tests early. The latest initiative, which would improve the fund of knowledge about the disease, marks a shift of policy.

British officials said they were unlikely to object to the Commission's new plans, partly because the UK already had a system for post-mortem random testing of some cattle over 30 months old . Only older cows develop clinical symptoms of BSE because of the long incubation period of the disease.

The use of meat and bone meal, thought to be the primary cause of BSE, has been banned in cattle feed in France since 1990.

Most of the new French cases of mad cow disease are believed to be the result of cattle eating feed containing animal meal, but intended for pigs or chickens.

The EU plan may prove expensive. Each new test is reckoned to cost £20.

14 Nov 00 - CJD - France acts on BSE

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Tuesday 14 November 2000

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has announced a ban on T-bone steaks and a moratorium on the use of animal products in livestock feed .

The measures are intended to calm public fears in France over the rising cases of BSE, or mad cow disease.

Several countries have already banned imports of beef from France, where sales of the meat have plummeted .

Mr Jospin had previously said no decision would be made until January

Mr Jospin has previously been accused of failing to respond to the growing public concern in France about the true extent of BSE.

Mr Jospin told a news conference the ban was intended as a precautionary step pending investigations by the national food safety agency.

French restrictions in force since 1990 ban the use of meat and bone meal in cattle feed, but the new temporary ban will apply to all livestock fodder.

The new ban has been prompted by fears that feeds containing cattle products have been accidentally or deliberately fed to cattle, despite the existing ban.

T-bone ban

Other measures announced by Mr Jospin include:

- random tests on cattle entering slaughterhouses

- more funds for research into BSE

The ban on T-bone steaks is intended to eliminate from the food chain the vertebrae of cattle, where the BSE infection is believed to reside.

BBC Paris correspondent James Coomarasamy says the move represents something of a climb-down for the French prime minister, who has warned against stoking consumer fears.

He had previously said that no decision would be taken about meat and bone-meal until scientific experts gave their opinion in January.

But he has come under increasing pressure to act after it was revealed last month that beef from a BSE-infected herd had been sold in several French supermarkets.

Last week Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany rejected a proposal by farmers to slaughter of millions of cattle in an attempt to wipe out the disease.

Mr Glavany said it would be too costly and would only create more "psychosis" among consumers.

14 Nov 00 - CJD - French ban own T-bone steaks

Staff Reporter

Evening Standard ... Tuesday 14 November 2000

France today announced a ban on the sale of T-bone steaks and suspended the use of livestock feed containing animal remains in order to slow the spread of BSE.

The ban comes as fear of mad cow disease has surged in France with the discovery of cases of diseased animals more than doubling this year, and reports that infected meat has reached supermarket shelves . Many education authorities have taken beef off school menus .

The French move follows the heavily criticised beef-on-the-bone ban in Britain when Jack Cunningham, then agriculture minister, outlawed the sale of fore rib of beef, T-bone steaks and oxtail in December 1997 for fear of a link between BSE and its human equivalent, CJD.

The ban stayed in place for two years before it was lifted by Mr Cunningham's successor Nick Brown last December.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin announced the immediate T-bone ban on French television today. M Jospin, who had been reluctant to ban animal based feeds , but had been under growing pressure from President Jacques Chirac to do so, said the moratorium on the use of feeds for farmed fish, chicken and pork would take effect from tomorrow.

A decision on a permanent ban will be made once the French agency for food safety assesses risks associated with such feeds. That could take three to four months.

France banned the use of animal-based feed for cows in 1990 and other ruminants six years later.

It is the risk of cross-contamination of feeds for cows from feeds authorised for chicken, pork and fish that the French government today said it was seeking to eliminate.

Only two people are known to have died in France from human variant CJD - compared to 81 in Britain.

However, the number of cows found to be suffering from the disease has jumped to more than 80 so far this year compared to 31 for the whole of last year, as systematic testing is carried out .

14 Nov 00 - CJD - Jospin forced into U-turn over BSE

By Harry de Quetteville in Paris

Telegraph ... Tuesday 14 November 2000

Lionel Jospin, the French Prime Minister, is to announce an immediate ban on all animal feeds containing bonemeal today as part of new measures to stop the spread of mad cow disease.

Last week, M Jospin said that he would wait for a report by the French food safety agency Afssa, which could take up to four months, before making a decision. But his hand has been forced by mounting public and political pressure, and last night he was preparing to impose a temporary ban while Afssa deliberates. The ban will extend to fish , pigs and poultry a 1996 ruling which outlawed the use of bonemeal in cattle feed.

Many farmers have blamed the latest cases of BSE in France on cattle feed which has been contaminated by bonemeal feeds intended for other animals. Today's move is a concession to demands made by the Greens, part of M Jospin's Socialist-led coalition, and a reaction to a declaration last week by President Chirac, who quickly picked up on gathering fears among French consumers about feeds containing bonemeal and called for them to be banned. Latest figures show that 80 per cent of French people are in favour of a ban.

Consumers and farmers have also called for a mass slaughter of cattle born before the 1996 ban on cattle feed containing bonemeal, and systematic BSE testing for every cow destined for human consumption. But M Jospin and the Agriculture Minister, Jean Glavany, have said that the slaughter of the three million pre-1996 cattle would cost £2 billion and would only "feed the BSE psychosis" building in the country.

"If this was a public health measure I would support it," M Glavany said last week. "But it is nothing of the sort. The idea has no rational foundation." He has also said that systematic testing, while desirable, was realistically impossible in the near future. M Glavany has said that France did not have enough vets to carry out the tests on all six million cattle consumed each year in France.

Today's move is a demonstration of how far the French government has had to move over BSE.Ten days ago, M Glavany said the government was "not in a hurry" to outlaw all animal feeds containing bonemeal.

13 Nov 00 - CJD - French act to calm BSE fears

From Charles Bremner In Paris

Times ... Monday 13 November 2000

The French Government is expected to impose a temporary ban on feeding meat and bone meal to livestock this week in an attempt to calm panic over "mad cow" disease.

Dominique Voynet, the Environment Minister, indicated yesterday that the Government had chosen a "moratorium " on animal-based feed rather than a permanent ban while it awaited advice from the country's National Food Safety Agency.

The illegal or accidental use of the feed for cattle is assumed to be the cause of a growing French epidemic of BSE.

13 Nov 00 - CJD - CJD risk in tonsil surgeons' equipment

By Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor

Times ... Monday 13 November 2000

Half the surgical instruments used for tonsil operations could be contaminated by variant CJD, according to an expert.

John Collinge, of Imperial College School of Medicine in London, said that the estimate had been made by ear, nose and throat surgeons at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, part of the medical school. "Based on 10,000 people incubating the disease, which is a conservative estimate, they calculated that half the tonsillectomy sets in the UK are contaminated ," he said. "This is potentially a serious problem ."

There has long been concern that vCJD, the human form of "mad cow" disease, might be spread by surgical instruments because the causative agent is far more resistant to cleaning and heat sterilisation than normal bacteria and viruses. "It's a major problem to which the Department of Health has given a lot of thought and not much action," Professor Collinge said at last week's British Medical Association conference. Officials are considering whether a shift to disposable instruments may be necessary.

The tonsils are believed to be infected with vCJD before obvious symptoms of the disease appear, so it would be possible for a surgeon to carry out a tonsillectomy on an apparently healthy person , contaminate his instruments and then pass it on to the next patient.

Professor Peter Smith, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, acting chairman of the Government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, said: "This isn't something that can be ignored . There is a theoretical risk that, if an unknown number of people are incubating vCJD, they may have operations, and if the infective agent survives decontamination it may be passed on."

The Department of Health has been discussing with surgeons whether they should move to disposable instruments, used only once. Four surgical operations are being considered because they present the greatest risk: tonsil and appendix removal, and operations on the back of the eye , and the brain . The department has also written to hospitals and health authorities at the advisory committee's request, seeking details of their decontamination procedures.

Even if current procedures are good enough for dealing with bacteria - and a Patients' Association survey of 310 NHS hospitals casts some doubt on that - the infective agents of vCJD are much harder to kill.

The prions which cause the disease resist detergents and chemicals , including hydrogen peroxide . Sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydroxide are the most effective, but sodium hypochlorite is extremely corrosive. Prions can also survive the high temperatures used in sterilisers. Some hospitals have introduced single-use instruments. The cost difference between employing people to clean instruments and using disposable ones is said not to be significant.

Professor Collinge believes that the estimate of 10,000 people incubating vCJD is conservative . Others argue that the levels are much lower, reducing the risk of contamination from surgical instruments, but not eliminating it.

If instruments are passing on vCJD, the effect would be to prolong the epidemic and create new cases long after the BSE agent had been removed from the food chain. And as Professor Collinge pointed out, most patients having tonsillectomies "are young people and children with their whole lives ahead of them".

13 Nov 00 - CJD - 'Surgical instruments spread CJD'

by Danielle Gusmaroli

Evening Standard ... Monday 13 November 2000

An urgent investigation has been launched amid escalating fears that variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease, is spread by the use of contaminated surgical instruments in tonsil operations.

Surgeons at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington fear half the UK's surgical instruments carry the bacteria, contributing to the rapid spread of the disease.

The Government has issued guidelines urging surgeons to dispose of instruments to prevent what is feared to be a "potentially serious problem".

Urgent meetings with health experts are scheduled to discuss other precautionary safeguards.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "No CJD sufferer has contracted the disease through surgery.

"We are working on a precautionary basis accepting that prions, which carry the disease, are very difficult to clean off instruments. We are investigating the matter and have known about it since last April.

"We have issued guidelines and are working out the practicalities of introducing other safeguards."

The spread of vCJD through surgical instruments was highlighted by Professor John Collinge, of London's Imperial College of Medicine, at a British Medical Association conference.

He said contaminated surgical instruments are far more resistant to cleaning and heat sterilisation. Because tonsils are believed to be infected with vCJD before obvious symptoms appear, a surgeon can carry out an operation on an apparently healthy person, contaminate the instruments, then pass it on to the next patient.

Professor Collinge told the conference: "Based on 10,000 people incubating the disease , which is a conservative estimate, they calculated that half the tonsillectomy sets in the UK are contaminated . This is potentially a serious problem.

"It is a major problem to which the Department of Health has given a lot of thought but not much action ."

Professor Peter Smith of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "This is not something that can be ignored .

"There is a theoretical risk that if an unknown number of people are incubating vCJD, they may have operations and if the infective agent survives decontamination it may be passed on."

So far variant CJD is suspected of killing more than 80 people in the UK.

13 Nov 00 - CJD - Millions Of Cows To Face BSE Test

Staff Reporter

Evening Standard ... Monday 13 November 2000

Millions of cows are to be tested for mad cow disease under the biggest anti-BSE programme yet proposed by the European Commission.

Full details of the scheme will be hammered out at talks between EU veterinary experts on Wednesday in the wake of growing concern over "disturbing" levels of BSE in France.

The target is older animals not covered by existing checks, and each test will cost at least £20 per head of cattle.

13 Nov 00 - CJD - Beef fears reach barracks

Staff Reporter

Telegraph ... Monday 13 November 2000

France is to ensure that its armed forces do not have to eat beef, the Defence Minister, Alain Richard, said yesterday.

Amid French consumer panic about BSE, M Richard said in an interview on Radio Monte Carlo: "We are going to make sure people have a choice. If beef is on the menu, there will always be an alternative."

12 Nov 00 - CJD - Britain faces BSE claims by French

Antony Barnett and Stuart Jeffries, Paris

Guardian ... Sunday 12 November 2000

Britain could face huge compensation claims from families of French victims of the human form of mad cow disease as doctors predict that thousands might die across the Channel.

Last month Tony Blair announced a multi-million pound no-fault compensation package for families of victims but set no guidelines as to who would be eligible.

With most British and French experts agreeing that BSE was a disease 'exported' from the UK to France, lawyers believe there would be a case for French families of variant CJD victims to sue the British government .

The French organisation offering support to CJD victims' families - the Association for the Struggle Against Prion-related Diseases - said: 'It is not inconceivable legal action could be taken against the British government.'

The association said it would be contacting David Body, the lawyer representing families of British victims, who has said that he believes there is a case that they could be eligible for compensation.

Frances Hall, of the Human BSE Foundation which supports variant CJD victims in Britain, said: 'The early cases in France seem to come from the same source as those in Britain and I think it would be morally difficult for the government to rule out compensation for families just because they are not British.'

A Department of Health spokeswoman did not rule out paying families of non-British victims but said it was 'too early to say '.

(mad cow Correspondent's note: Remember all the contaminated meat & bone meal exported to the Europe and the third world, all the sick cattle that must have been exported, all the pharmaceuticals made from dead cow? This has the potential to bankrupt the UK! The Department of Health spokeswoman's statement "not ruling out" payments to non-British victims is quite extraordinary!)

So far, only three French people have contracted variant CJD compared with 82 in the UK, but this weekend some French doctors predicted the figures could soar to several thousand . Two French victims have already died, and last week French television screened a documentary about a third victim, Arnaud, 19. The family is taking action against the French state but legal experts believe Britain could be held responsible.

In the past fortnight, the number of cases of BSE in French herds has tripled , but so far the epidemic is concentrated around Normandy and Brittany - the region that imported animal feed from Britain.

(mad cow Correspondent's note: the increase is because the French Government are testing all their herds for BSE. The UK Government dare not do this)

The Philips BSE report published last month confirmed that the spread of the disease was most probably caused by animal feed made from meat and bone meal which contained infected cattle . Britain banned the practice in July 1998, but figures from Customs and Excise reveal that in 1989 France imported more than 15,000 tonnes of meat and bone meal (MBM). By 1990, the amount had dropped to just over 1,000 tonnes and to practically zero the year after.

Several cases of BSE in Switzerland are also thought to have come from contaminated British animal feed.

French health secretary Dominique Gillot said: 'With the rise of the number of cases of mad cow disease in France it is probable that we will have several tens of cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.'

But doctors such as Dr Martine Pérez believe that there could be a much larger epidemic of variant CJD in France. Writing in yesterday's Le Figaro, Pérez argued that this would primarily be caused by consumption of contaminated British beef between 1980 and 1986, rather than BSE-infected French beef. Some estimates say this could mean as many as 7,000 cases of CJD in France.

This weekend other European governments have been urged to step up testing for mad cow disease. A plea from David Byrne, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, advised member states to speed up the introduction of random testing on targeted animals, which will become compulsory from the start of next year.

12 Nov 00 - CJD - French BSE crisis worsens

Jonathan Leake and Wayne Bodkin

Sunday Times ... Sunday 12 November 2000

Fears over the safety of French beef rose again this weekend after the country's most senior scientific adviser on BSE confirmed that large amounts of infected meat were still likely to be entering the human food chain, putting anyone eating beef at risk of developing variant CJD .

Professor Jeanne Brugère-Picoux, an adviser to the French government on BSE and related diseases, said most of the country's farmers and meat inspectors were incapable of recognising even the most obvious symptoms of the disease.

"Of course there is infected meat being passed for human consumption ," Brugère-Picoux said. "It is there either because of fraud or because our meat inspectors cannot diagnose BSE in its early stages."

Last year Britain imported 4,800 tons of beef from France. Its Food Standards Agency (FSA) insisted this weekend, however, that there is little Britain can do because under European Union regulations introduced on October 1, no member state can unilaterally block imports from another, whatever the risk is thought to be. France has illegally refused to lift its ban on British beef, despite the EU's insistence it must.

"We cannot stop beef imports from France without breaking the law," an FSA spokesman said. "Action has to come from Brussels."

The mounting crisis over French beef is reverberating around Europe. Italy has threatened a total ban unless there is an urgent meeting of the EU veterinary committee to discuss the situation. Hungary and Poland have banned French beef and Germany is threatening to do so. Spain has banned the import of French cattle for breeding.

Beef sales within France have declined by 60% over the past week as public confidence in the meat has collapsed.

Brugère-Picoux's comments were followed by a warning from France's meat inspectors that they planned to strike over the lack of training , equipment and manpower to monitor BSE.

Eighty-eight French cases of BSE have come to light this year, compared with 80 between 1988, when the disease was first reported, and 1999.

This total is far smaller than the 2,000-plus cases expected in Britain this year, but two factors make the French situation more unpredictable and dangerous. The number of infected animals in France is unknown but it is likely to be many thousands since most of the country's herds were exposed to infected feed, which is the most likely source of the disease.

In addition, France has no limit on the age at which cows can enter the food chain, even though experiments have shown that animals with BSE become highly infectious over the age of 30 months .

In Britain, by contrast, animals over 30 months cannot be eaten. There are now calls for similar rules in France, but for some it is already too late. Recently the nation was stunned when television showed harrowing film of a 19-year-old boy in the late stages of vCJD. He is the third French victim. Dominique Gillot, the health minister, has said she expects at least several dozen more.

In Britain, at least 84 people have died or are dying of vCJD.

The recent uproar in France has brought to light years of neglect of the disease by French officials. Recent evidence has shown that they have done almost nothing to implement a ban imposed in 1990 on the recycling of dead cattle to be fed to other cows. Additional reporting: Peter O'Donnell, Brussels, and Susan Bell, Paris

11 Nov 00 - CJD - Sufferers share 'safer' blood to beat rationing

James Meikle, health correspondent

Guardian ... Saturday 11 November 2000

Evidence is emerging of a "black market" between patients offered different treatments for haemophilia because of where they live.

Campaigners for those suffering from the condition are increasingly worried by reports that patients who get laboratory produced blood products on the NHS are sending part of their supply through the post to others who are receiving human derived material instead.

The practice is almost certainly illegal and the Department of Health warned it could also be extremely dangerous. A growing number of patients who cannot get alternatives to the human product are also believed to be doing without clotting factors at all , because of concerns over safety.

The Haemophilia Society, while not condoning such actions, said the government must act immediately to remedy the "scandalous " situation, saying "grossly unfair " prescribing policies were depriving 600-700 patients in England from access to drugs which were freely available to children throughout Britain and to adults in Scotland and Wales.

It knew of patients in the west midlands and in Newcastle who were refusing the human derived product, and callers to a helpline who indicated they were taking similar steps. The health minister, Lord Hunt, has agreed to meet society leaders over the issue and local health authorities are likely to be called into discussions.

Two years ago the government ordered the import from other countries of most blood plasma products , because of the theoretical risk that British products could transmit the human form of BSE . It also made all health authorities provide recombinant alternative for children under 16. Those in Scotland and Wales extended the provision too.

Karen Pappenheim, director of the Haemophilia Society, said a local health authority in one case "seems happy to let him do his own thing as long as it is not costing the NHS anything. It is scandalous. If he was living in Wales or Scotland, he would be getting recombinant [genetically engineered clotting product]". She added: "We do not recommend that anyone withhold treatment from themselves because they could put their lives at risk. However, the haemophilia community is in a no-win situation."

Some people had moved home to get to an area where recombinant was available.

Although blood products were probably now safer than they had been, the haemophilia community has been devastated by the HIV and hepatitis C contaminations. Those with weak immune systems already may be more susceptible to attack by other viruses that still defeat blood treatments. A Department of Health spokeswoman said last night: "We don't advise any patient to take any medication not specifically prescribed for them. It can be extremely dangerous."

11 Nov 00 - CJD - Bison farmers beef up supply with imports

James Meikle, health correspondent

Guardian ... Saturday 11 November 2000

Britons' search for more exotic tastes is heading westwards to the prairies. Farmers who have already begun raising bison for consumers on our smaller pastures say demand is outstripping supply.

They now intend to launch the British Bison Meat Company later this month to import the meat from Canada and are hoping to interest supermarkets and restaurants.

Enthusiasts say bison meat is better for consumers than the conventional alternatives. The handful of British herds only have between 200 and 250 animals in total.

Lord and Lady Seaford, among the prime movers behind the company, have been selling bison meat to private customers for about 10 years from their farm at West Knoyle, Wiltshire.

"It is like best quality Scotch beef without the fat and cholesterol . It is much healthier ," said Lady Seaford. "The majority of people we have sold to over the past few years have been first timers, but then they have come back again and again."

Her husband started the herd "because he had always wanted to since he was a boy". "They are gentle little things. The breeding bull is big but the cows are smaller than the average Friesian."

The meat is sold as sausages , burgers and rump , sirloin or fillet steak , and was sold at a premium price. The new arrangements with a firm in Calgary, Alberta, would allow unlimited supply. "We will import as much as the market will hold," Lady Seaford said. "At the moment we don't have enough to supply supermarkets or anything like that. If we are going to start importing more we are going to have to be more professional selling to restaurants and bigger chains."

The couple also farm deer and wapiti, better known as elk.

Ruth and George Wakeling, partners in the business, have about 40 bison on their farm at Nether Broughton, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. "People are buying as a novelty but coming back for more," she said. "Bison is sweeter than beef. Although it is more expensive, people are more aware of what they are eating and what goes into the animal. These are on grass and molasses .

Bison can be dangerous and need wild animal licences, "but if you leave them alone, they are quite happy".

Owners in Britain have to comply with BSE rules that apply to all cow-like animals. But they are angry that they get no EU compensation, unlike traditional beef and dairy farmers.

The food standards agency said last night: "As long as the meat is safe to eat it is a matter of consumer choice."

The search for exotic foods in this country does not have a happy history. In the wake of the BSE crisis entrepreneurs have tried widening the market for ostrich , alligator and kangaroo , with limited success and complaints from vegetarian and animal rights groups.

11 Nov 00 - CJD - French minister rejects cattle cull

By Patrick Bishop

Telegraph ... Saturday 11 November 2000

A proposal for a mass cull of millions of cattle to wipe out mad cow disease has been rejected by Jean Glavany, the French Agriculture Minister, on the grounds that it would cause even greater panic .

M Glavany said it would cost too much and would not work. His remarks were part of a government propaganda campaign aimed at calming the wave of alarm that has swamped the country following a loss of public confidence in the authorities' ability to deal with the situation. Drastic measures are urged, including a proposal by the main farmers' union for the slaughter of all cattle born before July 15, 1996, when a ban on feed containing animal remains was strengthened.

In an interview in the newspaper Liberation, M Glavany said: "If this were a public health measure I would support it, but it is nothing of the sort. The idea has no rational foundation." The plan would mean destroying three million cattle at a cost of £2 billion.

The result, said M Glavany, would be to "to confuse things, cast suspicion on the whole herd and feed psychosis". The word "psychosis" is being widely used by the government to describe the fear gripping France after years of complacency. Lionel Jospin, the Prime Minister, poured cold water on plans by beef farmers to stop sales of pre-1996 meat in a move to restore consumer confidence - and ensure compensation for themselves.

M Jospin said: "One should not be surprised that there are economic consequences for the [beef] industry when one does not provide answers but goes along with a sort of general psychosis." But the clamour for action is coming from the very top .

In a move interpreted as an inspired display of bandwagon-jumping - and an attempt to undermine the Socialist M Jospin - President Chirac has called for an immediate ban on feed containing meat by-products, still legal in France for fattening pigs and poultry .

M Jospin, clearly annoyed at the manoeuvre by his "cohabitation" partner, has promised that the feed will be outlawed, but only when it is practicable . Caterers inside and outside France are continuing to strike French beef from their menus. Yesterday, the Swiss city of Geneva , announced that it was banning beef in its creches and school canteens .

Fears have been fanned by reports like one in the newspaper Le Figaro yesterday that, based on British data, 7,000 French people could fall victim to CJD in the very long term , rather than the "tens" predicted by Dominique Gillot, the Health Minister. So far only two CJD deaths have been admitted officially.

The alarm has meant a slump in demand for beef, with a drop of 40 per cent in the number of cattle slaughtered in recent weeks, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday. The French food safety agency, Afssa, recommended a ban on calf's sweetbreads .

The beef crisis is likely to cast a shadow over the European summit in Nice next month, and it was high on the agenda of a French summit with Chancellor Gerhard Schroder in Vittel yesterday. European Union leaders are hoping that the announcement of the establishment of a European food safety agency at the summit will help to reassure consumers.

Toby Helm in Berlin writes: The upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, yesterday postponed a decision on urging reimposition of a ban on imports of British beef. It will also hold more talks before deciding whether to demand an embargo on French beef imports .

11 Nov 00 - CJD - Urgent appeal over French BSE outbreak

By Geoff Meade

Independent ... Saturday 11 November 2000

An urgent appeal went out to European governments yesterday to step up testing for BSE because of concern about "disturbing" levels of the disease in France.

A plea from David Byrne, the European commissioner for health and consumer protection, advised member states to speed up the introduction of random testing .

The testing will become compulsory next year , but Mr Byrne urged national authorities not to wait until then, particularly for animals considered most at risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Mr Byrne said in a statement: "The detection by the French authorities of an increased incidence of BSE is clearly disturbing. France's improved surveillance measures have increased the number of cases detected.

"All member states must learn from the French experience and also improve their surveillance measures for the detection of the disease."

He called on member states to "carry out many more tests than legally required" and added: "Such tests cannot serve as a substitute for the strict [European] Community controls to prevent the risk of transmission of BSE."

Mr Byrne also encouraged the rigorous implementation of controls , on the removal of specified risk materials; the processing of animal waste; the ban on the feeding of mammalian meat and bone meal to ruminants; and the detection of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE).

"Increased testing will further improve transparency and public information on BSE. This is crucial to instil confidence that the controls in place are effective in protecting the public from the disease," he said.

10 Nov 00 - CJD - Swiss ban on blood donors in CJD fear

James Meikle and Peter Capella in Geneva

Guardian ... Friday 10 November 2000

The prospect of controls on blood for transfusions across the European Union against the theoretical risk of the spread of the human form of BSE came a step nearer yesterday, as Switzerland imposed a ban on donors who had lived more than a few months in Britain.

Belgium and Austria are taking a similar step. The Swiss decision increased nervousness in Brussels, where the commission is reluctant to intervene over member states' policies on transfusion but faces growing pressure from some scientists for community-wide measures .

Blood donation is considered a national question, although the EU has introduced controls on animals, food and vaccines to combat threats from BSE and variant CJD.

Commission officials are still deciding how to respond to a paper submitted by medical advisers in February that said blood donors throughout Europe should be asked if they had visited Britain or other countries with BSE , so scientists could assess the risk of spreading variant CJD. One official said the opinion from the medical products and medical devices committee "stands alone at the moment, but it is under consideration". The issue was "sensitive".

The Department of Health in London is sceptical as to whether EU-wide bans would make blood safer. Last night it said: "The risk remains theoretical. It is for each country to balance out the risks."

The United States , Canada , Australia , New Zealand and Hong Kong have also banned blood donations by people who spent more than six months in Britain between 1980 and 1996. International concerns have been raised further by research published in September which indicated a sheep could infect other sheep with a BSE-like disease through blood transfusion , long before it displayed outward signs of disease.

The commission's medical advisers say checks should be made on all British meat exports up to 1996 , when a probable link between BSE and vCJD was established and wider controls on animal feed were introduced. Investigations should also be made into transmission of other diseases before deciding whether to ban donations from people who had stayed in BSE countries.

Switzerland , not a member of the EU, Portugal , Ireland and France , where numbers are rising rapidly, each have BSE cases running into three figures, although none match Britain's 177,000 cases since 1986 . Eighty-one people have died in Britain from vCJD, with four more facing inevitable death. Two have died in France, plus one still alive, and one has died in Ireland. The Phillips inquiry into BSE said most cattle cases abroad seemed traceable to Britain.

Britain is filtering out white cells from blood donations as an extra precaution against vCJD. Two Swiss transfusion centres have already stopped donations from people who visited Britain for more than six months prior to 1996; the measure applies nationwide next year and affects 2,000 volunteers, 1% of donors. The Swiss Red Cross, which runs the service, said: "We have to be precautionary, rather than sorry in 10 years' time."

09 Nov 00 - CJD - Inquiry now closer to confirming BSE links

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Independent ... Thursday 9 November 2000

A preliminary inquiry into a cluster of cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in a Leicestershire village has moved a step closer to confirming that contaminated beef was the cause of the outbreak.

Leicestershire Health Authority is carrying out an investigation into the deaths of five people from the variant form of the disease (v-CJD) in and around the village of Queniborough , Leicestershire.

Dr Bernard Crump, director of public health for the authority, said that a number of possible sources of the diseasehad been ruled out. "We are still trying to learn as much as we can from the five confirmed cases ," he said. "By putting that information alongside local information, we hope to try and establish a link."

Most of the victims would have contracted the disease more than 10 years ago when cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) were entering the human food chain.

Scientists have ruled out school dinners , baby foods , drinking water , immunisations , blood transfusions and animal bites as factors.

Dr Philip Monk, a consultant in communicable diseases, said: "We are on the way to finding a possible linking hypothesis. However, we have not yet found a theory that can link all the cases. We believe the meat supply chain is the only remaining factor." Dr Monk said that in 1990 a pet cat from the Queniborough area died from the feline form of BSE after eating infected meat. He said this was "corroborative evidence that BSE was in the area" .

09 Nov 00 - CJD - French farmers call for slaughter

Jon Henley in Paris

Guardian ... Thursday 9 November 2000

The only chef to hold six Michelin stars , Alain Ducasse, said he would stop serving French beef at his restaurants yesterday as the country's main farming union called for a cull of up to 5m older cows.

The prime minister, Lionel Jospin, sought to calm public panic about the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow disease, after the president of the FNSEA farmer's union, Luc Guyau, said he had asked the government to "do what it can" to make sure animals born before 1996 did not enter the food chain.

Mr Jospin urged all involved to "cool down", and criticised hard-hit farmers for fanning consumer fears by deciding to stop selling meat from cattle born before mid-1996, the date France introduced strict measures to counter BSE.

"No one should be surprised if there are economic consequences for the beef industry when one does not provide any concrete answers but instead goes along with a kind of general psychosis," he said.

The agriculture minister, Jean Glavany, insisted beef was safe . "I eat beef, my children eat beef, all the scientists who are mad cow disease experts eat beef and so do their children," he said. "I think we are now in the realm of psychosis and irrationality."

Spain joined the list of countries banning the import of French beef yesterday. But in London the foreign secretary, Robin Cook, said Britain had no intention of putting an embargo on beef products from across the channel. France's main wholesale food market at Rungis said beef sales had slumped by 60% week-on-week.

09 Nov 00 - CJD - No answer found on CJD cluster

James Meikle

Guardian ... Thursday 9 November 2000

Doctors and health officials investigating a cluster of five deaths from the human form of BSE have as yet been unable to formulate a theory to link all the cases.

Leicestershire health authority is trying to establish whether there is a common factor in the history of the victims, four of whom had links to the village of Queniborough .

The investigation is concentrating on the preparation and selling of meat products during the 1980s, after having eliminated other possibilities such as the water supply, surgery, vaccines and baby foods.

All five who died from variant CJD between August 1998 and last month had lived in the Wreake and Soar valley areas of the county for much of their lives.

Philip Monk, consultant in communicable diseases, said: "Between 1980 and 1991 all of the cases lived in an area defined by a circle within a radius of 5km .

"We have reached a stage where some risk factors have been found to be unlikely. We are on the way to finding a possible linking hypothesis. However, we have not yet found a theory that can link all the cases."

Although the investigators hope to make a progress report to government advisers on variant CJD later this month, a verdict on whether there was a single cause for the cluster is unlikely before early next year.

09 Nov 00 - CJD - Inquiry links cluster of CJD deaths to common source of meat

By Maurice Weaver

Telegraph ... Thursday 9 November 2000

Doctors investigating a cluster of vCJD deaths have concluded that the deaths were linked to a common source of meat .

Five people, aged between 18 and 35 , who lived within three miles of each other near Queniborough , Leics, have died of the disease since 1998. Dr Philip Monk, 44, a communicable disease control consultant, said: "Statistical analysis shows that the Queniborough cluster is very unlikely to have occurred by chance" .

"There must be something that is common to all five cases and we believe the meat supply chain is the key. Our expectation is that we will find something in the meat trade that acts as a linkage ." He and Dr Gerry Bryant, 41, have been seeking a cause of the deaths for four months. Because of the long incubation period of the disease they are seeking a common factor from as far back as the early Eighties.

Yesterday, in a report of their progress to the county health authority, they ruled out baby foods , school meals , drinking water , occupational exposure , injections or animal bites as possible causes. However, all the victims ate meat or meat products , including beef, and the two men now face the complex task of tracing the source from farm to retailer.

The team also found that at least one local cat died from feline CJD, further confirming that the disease was active in the area , which includes 13 small communities. Among the theories that have been ruled out so far are that all the affected families used the same butcher or that they attended a single social occasion, such as an ox-roast.

Although a scandal involving the supply of knacker's yard meat for human consumption occurred in the area, no link between this and the deaths was found. The team said that the absence of records about farming, market auctions, slaughtering and butchering practices at the time was a problem.

"Given the passage of time since the common exposure 'window' of these individuals with vCJD, some of those involved in the farming and meat trades are now elderly, in poor health or have died." The team said they were still conducting interviews and added: "When we have completed these our intention will be to develop a theory linking all the cases in this cluster."

09 Nov 00 - CJD - Checks on beef chain in area hit by vCJD

By Valerie Elliott, Consumer Editor

Times ... Thursday 9 November 2000

Checks on the supply of beef in Leicestershire are being made as part of an investigation into the five deaths from human BSE that make up the Queniborough cluster.

Experts are tracing the chain from farm to plate in the hope of identifying a common link to the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) victims. The inquiry will centre on the early 1980s, before the BSE crisis, when older dairy cattle were often sold for processing.

An interim report from Leicestershire Health Authority makes clear that experts expect the meat supply chain to provide clues to the source of infection. The report is not expected until March.

Dr Philip Monk, Local Health Authority consultant in communicable diseases, said yesterday that he did not believe sources of the infection would be put down to only one butcher or supplier. Health authority chiefs say there is no threat to health in the county.

The five cases are being studied as a cluster zone of Mountsorrel , Rearsby , Queniborough , Syston , Birstall , Thurmaston and Rushey Mead .