Document Directory

31May 01 - CJD - Ops delay leaves girl in agony
30 May 01 - CJD - Cattle with possible BSE lost in Australia
30 May 01 - CJD - Firms Rush to Develop Better Tests for Disease
30 May 01 - CJD - Lessons Of BSE Must Be Learned
30 May 01 - CJD - Could the Environment Trigger Mad Cow Disease?
28 May 01 - CJD - Caribbean Illness Linked to Mad Cow
28 May 01 - CJD - Docs: Mad Cow scare may break blood bank
28 May 01 - CJD - New rules to head off Mad Cow disease could affect local blood bank
28 May 01 - CJD - Culled cattle may spread bse in water supplies
28 May 01 - CJD - British residents fear Mad Cow stockpile sites
28 May 01 - CJD - Protesters block foot-and-mouth burial site
28 May 01 - CJD - BSE risk not an issue, claim landfill bosses
26 May 01 - CJD - CJD on increase as human death toll passes 100
26 May 01 - CJD - 100th CJD case, and no one knows when it will peak
26 May 01 - CJD - Culled cattle may spread BSE in water supplies
26 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease In The Water?
26 May 01 - CJD - Villagers are reassured after two local CJD deaths
26 May 01 - CJD - BSE adviser wouldn't drink water near foot-and-mouth burial sites
26 May 01 - CJD - UK warns of BSE infection in water supplies near foot-and-mouth burial sites
26 May 01 - CJD - UK rushes to identify culled cattle burial sites
26 May 01 - CJD - Shadow of fear follows the cull
26 May 01 - CJD - Cancer Fears Over Milk
26 May 01 - CJD - Milk feared to contain cancer-linked dioxins
25 May 01 - CJD - CJD claims 100th victim
25 May 01 - CJD - Ashdown family relative died of CJD
25 May 01 - CJD - Culled cattle may have to be exhumed says government adviser
25 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross reacts to Mad Cow disease scare
25 May 01 - CJD - Senate passes 'Mad Cow' bill
25 May 01 - CJD - Brain diseases discovery
25 May 01 - CJD - McDonald's Says Sorry in Beef Over French Fries



31May 01 - CJD - Ops delay leaves girl in agony

Staff Reporter

Newcastle Chronicle---Thursday 31 May 2001


Hundreds of patients are still waiting for tonsil operations at a Tyneside hospital, five months since they were postponed.

An equipment crisis at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital has created a huge backlog, meaning patients needing the operation face further weeks of delay.

All routine tonsil and adenoid removals for patients across the North East were put on hold in January.

The decision followed concern that CJD, the human form of BSE, could be passed from patient to patient via the medical equipment used in the ops.

Health chiefs were told by the Department of Health to switch to disposable instruments instead of sterilised equipment but a national shortage of supplies meant operations were delayed.

Poorly Vicki McIntyre, 23, has been left in the dark as to when she will have her tonsils removed. She was due to have a tonsillectomy at the Freeman in February but received a letter telling her the op had been cancelled.

She said: "I've been in agony and I'm still on antibiotics. I'm worried I might fail my first year at university because I've missed so much work through being ill."

The Freeman, which carried out more than 1,000 tonsil and adenoid procedures in 1999-2000, has deferred all operations on children.

And adults who were given admission dates prior to the instrumentation issue, were given a choice whether to go-ahead with their operation or wait until disposable instruments are available.

Miss McIntyre has not had any further correspondence from the hospital to schedule a new date for the operation.

In the meantime, she is having to spend more than 30 a month on antibiotics, painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets.

She said: "I'm really angry that I don't even know when I can have the operation. The letter said it had been cancelled.

"If I'd been offered the option I'd have gone ahead and had the operation.

"I'm very achy and tired all the time but I can't afford to be ill. My parents are disabled and I have to work in the TA to pay for college.

"I first went to see a consultant about my tonsils when I was seven but I was told I'd grow out of it. Since I was 18 I've had tonsillitis really badly. Even though I'm on antibiotics I get to a stage where my throat closes up and I can't breathe. There's not much of my tonsils left but when they are inflamed it is very painful."

A statement released by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages the Freeman, said Vicki's operation would be undertaken within four weeks.

It was stated that the first batch of disposable instruments had been delivered earlier this week and a further batch was expected by the end of today.

The trust said: "The number of potential patients deferred since January 2001 has averaged 70 to 80 a month.

"NHS hospitals follow strict standards and a national code of practice in relation to this particular operation."

The private Nuffield Hospital has been able to perform tonsillectomy operations with disposable equipment since the start of this week.

And a spokesman for Northumbria Health Care Trust which covers North Tyneside, Wansbeck, Hexham and Berwick, said tonsil operations had now been resumed in its hospitals. The tonsils are part of the body's lymph system and carry the highest risk of harbouring CJD in an infected individual.

In February hospitals were told it could take up to three months before the new disposable equipment was available.


30 May 01 - CJD - Cattle with possible BSE lost in Australia

Staff Reporter

MSN--Wednesday 30 May 2001


Twenty-four cattle and buffalo that could be carrying the Mad Cow virus had disappeared into Australia's bovine herds, the nation's deputy chief veterinarian said Tuesday.

Dr Bob Biddle told a Senate estimates committee hearing that tracing on the cattle had gone cold despite the best efforts of veterinary, customs and agriculture department staff.

He said while there was little risk the cattle could be carrying Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), it was disappointing they had not been found out of the more than 400 imported cattle that could pose a Mad Cow risk.

"We regard the BSE risk of these animals as quite low," he said.

More than 100 people in the UK and Ireland have died from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakobs disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE.

Around 400 cattle and buffalo were imported during the 1980s before a ban was enforced on animals from countries where BSE had been confirmed.

All but 24 of those cattle imported from the UK, France, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Germany have been traced, with tests carried out on most of them.

Dr Biddle said the loss of ownership records, the death of farmers and even the re-export of the animals had made it virtually impossible to trace the remaining animals.

He said brain examinations of some of the cattle that had been found showed none were BSE carriers, while those still alive had shown no symptoms of the disease.

Dr Biddle said none of the missing cattle were from dairy herds, which had posed the greatest risk of carrying BSE in the UK.

More action would soon be taken to examine cattle, imported from BSE countries, which remained alive and in private ownership.

"Animal Health Australia will be moving to again make offers of buyback," Dr Biddle said.

"Again, we would be seeking to examine the brains of these animals to confirm their disease freedom."

Dr Biddle said of the cattle that remained alive, all had passed the longest known gestation period for BSE in British herds.

He said BSE was not widespread in Britain, with the disease detected in 0.3 per cent of the nation's herd, and almost all among dairy cattle.

Australian bans on livestock from BSE-infected countries remain in force.


30 May 01 - CJD - Firms Rush to Develop Better Tests for Disease

By Terence Chea, Washington Post Staff Writer

Washington Post--Wednesday 30 May 2001


'Mad Cow' Fears Create a Market

If you studied in France for a semester or spent a summer touring Britain as far back as 1980, soon you won't be allowed to give blood at the American Red Cross.

The agency badly needs more donors, but last week it said it will stop accepting blood from anyone who has spent as little as three months in the United Kingdom or six months in Europe during the past two decades.

Such restrictions on blood donors stem from growing fears over the human form of "Mad Cow" disease. There's no proof that the brain-wasting ailment can be transmitted by human blood, but Red Cross officials don't want to take any chances with a disease that has decimated the British beef industry and claimed more than 100 human lives. The agency is resorting to such extreme precautions because there's still no test to detect the disease in blood.

"Without a test, we can't tell how big or how small the problem is," said Jacquelyn Fredrick, the Red Cross's senior vice president of biomedical services. "We have no test to determine if it's in the blood, how long it stays in the blood or how infectious it is."

The need for tests to detect the deadly disease -- which eats away at the brain tissue of its victims -- is generating a flurry of scientific investigation and entrepreneurial activity. Around the world, more than 20 companies, including two Maryland firms, are racing to develop better tests to identify the infectious particles believed responsible for Mad Cow disease, formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), and its human form, the new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The demand for new tests is being fueled by the lack of medical and scientific knowledge about how the disease is contracted and spread, and exacerbated by the extended period of time it takes for symptoms to appear. Without hard evidence to the contrary, the possibility that the disease may be spreading among humans through blood transfusions, the food supply and the numerous consumer products derived from cow parts has created a mushrooming market for diagnostic products practically overnight.

In Europe, where the epidemic started, government officials have ordered that all cattle older than 30 months be tested before they can enter the food supply, creating a market for tests projected at $186 million this year. That market could grow if other countries follow Europe's lead. In the United States alone, human blood is donated more than 12 million times a year.

Existing tests to detect the disease in cattle require lab analysis of brain tissue after an animal has been slaughtered. A rush of new competitors believe they can design tests that not only are faster, cheaper and more reliable than those currently available but, more important, can detect the disease in living animals or humans.

Many companies, such as Prion Developmental Laboratories Inc., are trying to develop such a blood test. The Baltimore firm has enlisted the expertise of famed AIDS researcher Robert Gallo, whose co-discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus in 1984 led to the first blood test to detect the condition.

"There's an urgent need to get a blood test to find out how many Americans carry it, if any, and protect the blood supply," said Gallo, PDL's principal investigator, who also directs the University of Maryland's Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore. "Tests right now are too complex and too insensitive."

But jumping into the market for Mad Cow diagnostics is not without risks. So far, only Europe requires widespread cattle testing, and regulations could change if current measures halt the spread of the disease. And the disease has not appeared among cows or humans in the United States, so the market for testing here is still relatively speculative. Plus, the sheer number of companies that are now developing Mad Cow diagnostics raises the odds, as the market becomes crowded with competition.

Since it was first discovered in cattle in 1984, Mad Cow disease has devastated the European cattle industry and killed more than 100 people, mostly in Britain. The disease has been detected in about 200,000 cattle, but because of the lack of better diagnostic tests, more than 4.5 million animals have been slaughtered on suspicion they had the disease, at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion.

Mad Cow disease and its human variant are believed to be caused by abnormal proteins called prions that cause normal proteins to fold into abnormal shapes. The misshapen proteins slowly accumulate in the victims' brain tissue, causing it to become spongy and full of holes. The disease's long latency period means many years, or even decades, can pass before an infected animal or human begins to show symptoms: dementia, loss of neurological control and finally death.

Most scientists believe that the humans who became infected did so after eating infected beef. Studies in laboratory animals have shown that Mad Cow disease can be transmitted in blood, but scientists are divided over whether it is transmissible in human blood.

Current tests can detect the disease only in its later stages, once a victim begins to show symptoms. That worries health officials because it means infected cattle may have entered the food chain, or been used in other consumer products, without detection. It could also mean infected humans may have donated blood not knowing they carried the disease.

In the absence of scientific certainty about the disease's transmission, proponents of testing see the ability to certify beef as disease-free as a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

"Who do you want to buy from, a country that's tested or a country that hasn't tested?" asked Thomas Pringle, an authority on the disease who runs the Sperling Biomedical Foundation in Eugene, Ore. "You're talking about gigantic industries that have lots to lose, and a public that has a lot to lose, too."

Sensing a consumer revolt against beef and other cattle products, some major corporations are taking measures to preemptively stem a backlash against their products. In March, British grocery chain Sainsbury's announced it would start testing all beef supplied to its supermarkets.

"Everybody's scrambling to offer tangible evidence in the form of a negative test that their product isn't infected," Pringle said.

The competition to design a better test includes major diagnostic firms such as Bayer Diagnostics of Tarrytown, N.J.; Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH; and smaller biotechnology firms such as Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Montreal and Paradigm Genetics Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C.

In Gaithersburg, Igen International Inc. has announced plans to develop its own test, based on its Origen detection technology, which uses light-emitting compounds to indicate the presence of biological substances. The company has teamed up with a London start-up headed by British researcher John Collinge, who was among the first to link Mad Cow disease to its human version. The company hopes to have a test on the market by year's end.

In Baltimore, Prion Developmental Laboratories Inc. was launched in November to design "rapid, sensitive and inexpensive" tests to screen for Mad Cow and other prion diseases. Funded by New York investment firm Genesis Bioventures Inc., the firm is working with prion-disease researchers at universities in Ohio, New York and Maryland.

Current tests used in Europe, which include kits made by Prionics AG of Switzerland, Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. of Hercules, Calif., and Enfer Scientific Ltd. of Ireland, require samples of brain tissue to be removed at the slaughterhouse and shipped to a laboratory for testing. None of the tests can detect the disease in live animals.

"Nobody's really satisfied with the old test," said Robert Petersen, PDL's chief scientific adviser and a pathologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "It would be nice if someone had a simple blood test so you can test before you actually cut open the animal."

Unlike foot-and-mouth disease, another epidemic that has ravaged Europe's livestock industry, Mad Cow disease is not caused by a virus or bacteria, which are easier to detect in blood because the body creates antibodies to fight them.

To detect Mad Cow disease early, researchers must design a test that can distinguish between normal prion proteins and their rogue cousins, a major challenge for researchers. "You're looking for a gray straw in the middle of a large mass of yellow straw," Gallo said.

The Red Cross is starting to evaluate various tests to protect its blood supply, though it may be several years before one is ready, Fredrick said. Until then, the agency, which collects about half of the nation's blood donations, will have to rely on measures that screen donors based on risk factors, such as whether they've lived in Britain in the past 20 years. The agency is drawing up a policy now so restrictions can be put in place in September.

"The test is really the defining step in dealing with any public health issue and the public fear surrounding a disease," Fredrick said. "Obviously, what we really want is the information to find a cure for the disease."


30 May 01 - CJD - Lessons Of BSE Must Be Learned

Breed

Liberal Democrats---Wednesday 30 May 2001


Commenting on reports that the Government's BSE advisers have expressed concerns about the potential risks of vCJD being spread through water around foot and mouth burial sites, Colin Breed, Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Rural Affairs and Agriculture, said:

"Before the Foot and Mouth outbreak, scientists made it clear that the only safe way of disposing of potentially BSE infected cattle was through rendering and incineration.

"Concerns have now been raised about this method of disposal. Independent and open research on the effects on water courses, and on the atmosphere around burial sites and pyres, must be carried out urgently.

"The lesson of the BSE crisis was that without the facts to back up the conflicting quotes from scientists there is public confusion and panic. The Government must now show that it has learned those lessons.

"The spectre of BSE are still haunting us today. The mistakes of the last Conservative government must not be repeated."


30 May 01 - CJD - Could the Environment Trigger Mad Cow Disease?

By Nicholas Regush

ABC News--Wednesday 30 May 2001


Controversial Research Says Metals - Not Infectious Beef - May Be Involved

What if it turns out that the human form of Mad Cow disease is triggered by environmental factors - and not by infectious beef products - as some ongoing British research at Cambridge University suggests?

Conventional View Controversial View A Metal Can Change Brain Chemistry Pesticides May Play Role, Too More Research Necessary

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

What if much of the science to date, focusing on contaminated meat, has been overly simplistic or even dead wrong?

The immediate implication would be that we would have to rethink everything already done to fight the disease, both in Britain where it began, in Europe, where it has spread, and in other nations, including the United States, where concerns are mounting about its potential to be unleashed.

Last week, in order to prevent the disease from contaminating the blood supply, the American Red Cross, in accepting the view that infectious beef is to blame, barred donations from anyone who consecutively spent three months in Britain and six months in Europe since 1980.

Presumably, anyone in those countries for that long a period would have had the opportunity to contract an infection from eating contaminated beef and then possibly pass it on by donating blood.

But, of course, this prevention strategy presumed the prevailing scientific perspective on Mad Cow disease and its human form, variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease or vCJD, is correct.

Conventional View: Consumed Infectious Agent

The viewpoint held by most scientists is that an infectious agent likely moved from sheep to cows and gained enough strength in its cross-species jump to ravage the nervous system and cause the bovine brain to appear spongy and rife with holes like Swiss cheese. This brain-destroying "Mad Cow" infection was further transmitted, according to this interpretation, via the rendering of carcasses, to meat and bone meal in feed. That set off the epidemic in British cows in 1986.

The human form of the disease began to turn up in Britain in 1995 when, according to the conventional wisdom, the infectious agent in cows, thought to have been passed on to humans by contaminated cooked meat products, had sufficient time to incubate and become destructive to the nervous system.

So far, about 100 people have developed vCJD and died, the majority of them in Britain. Mind and body are usually destroyed within a year.

Paul Brown, a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., echoing the conventional view on Mad Cow disease and vCJD, wrote in the April 7 edition of the British Medical Journal that it is "uncontestable" that the disease in cows is the cause of vCJD.

But not according to David Brown, a biochemist at Cambridge University, who counters that "there is no conclusive proof that [Mad Cow disease] caused vCJD."

Next week at a scientific conference in Quebec City, he'll discuss some of his most recent research, pointing to a possible environmental explanation of both Mad Cow disease and vCJD.

Controversial View: Environmental Exposure

That conference is all about manganese, a heavy metal, that is essential to life and is part of the daily diet - for example, wheat, rice and tea provide the metal - but numerous studies show that environmental overexposure to it can be dangerous to the nervous system.

Manganese can affect humans via air, water and soil.

For example, workers who have been exposed to high industrial doses of manganese have suffered tremors and muscular rigidity, hallucinations, and involuntary laughing and crying. Biochemical analysis of central nervous system tissue in humans poisoned by manganese shows that the metal can cause brain cells to die.

On the basis of his published laboratory research, Cambridge's Brown believes that manganese may play an important role in a complex process that eventually destroys the brain, both in cows and humans.

David Brown agrees with the conventional view that the key agent in the disease is a protein called a "prion." These prions are thought to keep nerve cells stable. The conventional view holds that prions can somehow become malformed and that's when they become infectious and capable of damaging the brain.

The malformed prion, then, according to the conventional view, is the infectious and transmissible agent in Mad Cow disease and vCJD. The infection is neither a virus, nor a bacterium.

A Metal Can Change Brain Chemistry

Brown parts company here with the conventional view, altogether dismissing the notion of an "infectious" prion. He told me: "I have [published] evidence from my cell culture experiments that shows manganese can change the prion into its abnormal [and dangerous] form." This is especially the case when the supply of copper to the cell is low.

If David Brown's research is on a correct path, then scientific and public concerns about infection from beef could eventually be dwarfed by concerns about toxic effects in the environment that cause copper levels to decrease and manganese levels to rise.

Because Brown's research shows that he can change the prion from its normal to abnormal state by manipulating the only two metals that bind to it, copper and manganese, without the need for any infectious material, he believes the reigning theory about Mad Cow disease and vCJD is at best incomplete, and quite likely incorrect.

So, he sees it as plausible that what is seen in the test tube may also occur in humans who are environmentally exposed to excess amounts of manganese. (The metal's ancient Greek name is manganin, which means the occult, voodoo or black magic.)

In fact, Brown's research has given a boost to the controversial theories of Mark Purdey, a farmer turned amateur scientist who has been challenging the conventional view of Mad Cow disease and vCJD from the start.

He has provided detailed reports to the British government's hearings on Mad Cow disease and has published several peer-reviewed scientific papers on the subject, including data on how manganese in the environment may play a role in both Mad Cow disease and vCJD.

Purdey never bought into the conventional wisdom. "It never made any sense to me," he said in an interview from his farm in Taunton, England.

Pesticides May Play Role, Too

His battle goes back to 1984 when farmers in many locales were ordered by the government to use an organophosphate pesticide (Phosmet) to fight off the warble fly, a parasite that lays eggs under the skin of cattle. Purdey, who operates an organic farm, refused to do so, went to court and won.

This pesticide, a constituent of nerve gas, was applied on the back of the cow along its spinal column.

When Mad Cow disease erupted, Purdey noticed that the disease occurred on farms where the pesticide was used and not on those which, like his, it wasn't. He added: "Also, no home-reared cows on organic farms have developed [Mad Cow disease].

Purdey then focused his attention on geographic areas where there had been reported clusters of Mad Cow disease, similar illnesses and vCJD. "I discovered [in sampling soil, water and vegetation] that the common factor in the environment is manganese," he explained. "In some case, huge amounts of it. Also, the amounts of copper in these areas was low."

He presented his findings in his 28-page scientific paper published last year in the journal Medical Hypothesis.

For example, in Iceland, he found high levels of manganese deposits in valleys where a sheep disease, scrapie, similar to Mad Cow disease flourished. Valleys with normal manganese levels were scrapie-free.

In Colorado, he found deer herds with high incidence of a Mad Cow-like wasting disease were eating pine needles loaded with manganese. "I brought the pine needles home and had them tested and the manganese was excessively high."

Closer to home, Purdey has also investigated several cases of vCJD in the area of the village of Queniborough and discovered that soil and water samples showed high to very high levels of manganese. In the '80s and '90s a dye-works plant operated in Queniborough. Manganese is used in dyes, he said, adding that villagers remembered days when a cloud of yellow dust would settle in the area.

All his digging around has led to a highly detailed theory for Mad Cow disease: In short:

- The high doses of organophosphates that were poured on the cows' spines and poisoned the bodies decreased the amount of copper in cells.

- The feed given to animals in the '80s contained high amounts of manganese, some of it derived from chicken manure of chickens fed high doses of manganese to strengthen egg shells.

- Supplemental powders and mineral licks with manganese were sometimes added to feed troughs.

- The depletion of copper and the high manganese changes normal prions to abnormal, thus setting the stage for disease.

Purdey believes vCJD is also likely triggered by similar environmental factors.

But NIH's Paul Brown told me that this alternative theory is among those he views as "nonsense," referring me to his BMJ paper of April 7.

In it, he states that the theory that organophosphates are involved in Mad Cow disease fails to account for the evidence that the disease can be experimentally transmitted.

Purdey counters that the disease is not transmitted experimentally when processed beef products are used. Only when tissue directly from cows is ground up and mixed. "Humans and cattle obviously do not eat this concentrated so-called bovine homogenate," he explained. "This is not the correct way to do science."

When the homogenate is used, theorizes Purdey, its toxicity, due to changes in its arrangement of metals, may lead to a change in prions from their normal to an abnormal state.

The NIH's Brown, also writing in BMJ, raises the question of why Japan has been mad-cow free since it uses organophosphates extensively.

Purdey's response is that Britain's use of Phosmet, unlike elsewhere, was four times the maximum dose and that it was an oil-based application that entered the cows' blood stream. "You can't just simply throw around the idea that everyone uses organophosphates the same way."

More Research Necessary

So where do we stand on this issue? Obviously the mainstream infectious model of what Mad Cow disease is all about holds sway and is likely to continue to do so. Unless, of course, more research funding is granted to nay-sayers like Purdey and Cambridge's David Brown that makes for compelling science and headlines.

The British government has paid some lip service to Purdey's ideas - they have been discussed in the House of Commons - and has promised him some research funding. But so far, no dice.

David Brown of Cambridge, while cautious about his and Purdey's challenge to conventional thinking on Mad Cow disease and vCJD, said that "science should be open to these possibilities, particularly since there is still a lot of mystery surrounding these outbreaks."

David Brown also believes that ignoring the possibility that environmental factors trigger both animal and human diseases could prevent action from being taken to clean up toxic effects that may be at the root of the problem. "We obviously need much broader research in this entire area," he said.

This is a battle that will not likely go away. And it shouldn't go away until more research is done to examine the claims - on both sides.


28 May 01 - CJD - Caribbean Illness Linked to Mad Cow

Reuters

YAHOO--Monday 28 May 2001


POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe (AP) - Officials in the French Caribbean on Saturday confirmed three cases of a brain-wasting ailment in the islands and said one could be a variant linked to Mad Cow disease.

Two of the patients are on the French island of Guadeloupe and the other patient is on St. Martin.

One is possibly suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, the human variation of the disease linked to the consumption of beef infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, known as Mad Cow disease, according to the French government's top official on Guadeloupe, Jean Francois Carenco.

The other two cases are suspected to be another form of the fatal ailment that isn't linked to eating infected meat, he said.

Earlier on Saturday in Paris, Health Ministry officials said they were still investigating if the three patients had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Three people in France have already died from it.

In Britain, where Mad Cow disease was identified in 1995, 100 people are believed to have contracted the ailment. The disease can only be confirmed by a brain biopsy, usually after death.

In 1997, a woman in Guadeloupe died from a form of the disease not linked to Mad Cow.


28 May 01 - CJD - Docs: Mad Cow scare may break blood bank

Hallie Levine

New York Post---Monday 28 May 2001


The FDA, fearful of mad-cow disease, may ban even more people from giving blood - possibly triggering a dangerous local shortage, experts warned yesterday.

"We could lose about a third of our blood supply ," said Dr. Robert Jones, president of the New York Blood Center.

The Food and Drug Administration's current ban applies only to those who spent six months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980 to 1996, the height of the country's mad-cow epidemic.

But now, the agency has confirmed that it's weighing a ban on potential donors who have spent any time in Europe since 1980 . And the restrictions could begin as early as this fall.

Sources say the new rules may be similar to those being implemented in September by the American Red Cross, which collects about half the nation's blood supply.

The Red Cross will bar donations from those who lived in Britain for three months since 1980 or in other European countries for six months since 1980, as well as those who have ever received a blood transfusion in Britain.

The rules will exclude about 8 percent of potential donors, according to Blythe Kubina, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

"There's no way to test [for] the human form of mad-cow disease. A person can be infected for up to 15 years before showing any signs of illness," she explained.

But some experts say tighter donor rules aren't necessary.

"It's never been proven that human mad-cow disease can be transmitted through blood," said Paul Brown, a former chairman of the FDA's advisory panel on Mad Cow.

"If there was no tradeoff, such caution would be prudent. But this degree of donor exclusion could trigger a serious blood shortage."

Such restrictions would cripple New York, which relies heavily on Switzerland, Holland and Germany for its blood supply.

"About 25 percent of our supply comes from Europe, and another 10 percent from New Yorkers who will become ineligible [under] the new regulations," said Jones, whose center provides about 75 percent of the local blood supply.

The Red Cross maintains it can increase its blood supply through marketing - targeting more potential donors. But local hospitals remain worried.

"Just a couple of years ago, the worst times were Labor Day weekend and the holiday week between Christmas and New Year's," said Mark Wheeler, director of the Blood Bank at New York University Medical Center.

"Now, it's become increasingly difficult to get blood in during the summer and in January."


28 May 01 - CJD - New rules to head off Mad Cow disease could affect local blood bank

By Anne Patterson Braly

Chattanooga Times Free Press---Monday 28 May 2001


New guidelines meant to protect the nation's blood supply from Mad Cow disease could affect local donations, but are important, according to an official with Chattanooga's Blood Assurance.

"My thinking is that we should be cautious in protecting our blood supply, even though this is an issue that may or may not be a problem here," said Dr. Robert Hillwig, medical director for Blood Assurance. "Ten years from now, it will probably be quite obvious to us what we should have done."

The American Red Cross guidelines ban blood from donors who have lived in the United Kingdom for three consecutive months, or in Europe for six consecutive months, between 1980 and the present. The guidelines were announced this week and will take effect in mid-September.

Dr. Hillwig said his first concern is that the new policy could have a trickle-down effect on blood banks such as Blood Assurance that are governed by the Food and Drug Administration, not the Red Cross.

"A policy made by an organization as large as the Red Cross will possibly influence the FDA into making the same restrictions," he said. The FDA now bans blood donations from people who lived in either the United Kingdom or Europe through 1996.

The issue will be addressed next month at an FDA advisory meeting, he said.

Blood Assurance, as a result of current FDA guidelines, has lost some of its longtime donors, Dr. Hillwig said. If the Red Cross policy expands as planned, he has concerns about Blood Assurance's ability to keep up, he said.

"In the past, though, we've always buckled down and been able to recruit more people to donate," he said.

Most Red Cross blood donations coming into Chattanooga are patient-specific, meaning either the patient has donated the blood for himself or someone else has directed a donation to a specific patient, officials said.

A spokeswoman for the Red Cross said no test is available to screen blood donations for Mad Cow disease, a nerve disorder fatal to cattle that can kill humans who eat infected beef, and the new ban is a judgment call.

"In the face of scientific uncertainty, it is critical that we take cautious measures," Blythe Kubina said.

The Red Cross accounts for about half the nation's blood donations and the new guidelines could restrict about 8 percent of current blood donors, Ms. Kubina said. That translates into a possible loss of 400,000 donors each year.

Edgar Todd, chapter manager of the local Red Cross unit, said the organization has "always set high standards and built in safeguards to protect our blood supply."

Eight special orders were imported from Red Cross' Nashville-based Tennessee Valley Blood Services by Chattanooga's Blood Assurance last year to help when rare blood types were needed, according to records.

With national numbers of blood donors dropping and the number of those in need of blood rising the availability of special orders could be compromised, officials said.

Ms. Kubina said the American Red Cross plans to spend $2.5 million to help in recruiting new donors through television and direct-mail advertising in more than 55 markets throughout the country.

"We're trying to recruit a new generation of blood donors," she said.

E-mail Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com


28 May 01 - CJD - Culled cattle may spread bse in water supplies

By Elizabeth Piper

YAHOO--Monday 28 May 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - Officials are scrambling to find cattle that had been culled and buried to combat foot-and-mouth after scientists said the carcasses might have to be dug up to protect humans from Mad Cow disease.

Scientists confirmed that older cattle, born after strict measures were put in place in 1996 to stop the spread of the brain-wasting disease, could spread Mad Cow disease to humans by contaminating water supplies and so would have to be exhumed.

The scientists, members of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, said up to 10,000 cattle over five years old had been buried in what so far amounted to at least 55 sites across Britain.

"The group agreed with the Environment Agency that the sites where over five year cattle may have been buried would need to be examined on a case by case basis, and appropriate risk assessments carried out," SEAC said in a statement.

"In many cases, these would probably show that there was no need for action. At the other extreme, there might be sites where pollution was occurring and where immediate action would be needed which could include digging up the carcasses, removing authorisation for a private water supply, or creation of a barrier to prevent pollution."

It said that according to a recent unpublished scientific paper, most body fluids could have leaked out of the carcasses within around two months -- giving officials little time to pin down the location of all the sites involved.

Earlier, a UK scientists told Reuters officials might have to dig up carcasses after SEAC's advice to burn all cattle carcasses and reduce the risk of spreading BSE was received by the ministry too late. The agriculture ministry has said it most probably had buried older cattle.

Scientists say contaminated water could transmit to humans what is believed to cause new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) -- mutated prion proteins that can cause the brain to become spongy and wither.

A hundred people in the UK have died of the human form of BSE.

STILL FINDING SITES

Officials said they were still trying to identify the sites where older cattle had been buried during the early days of the foot-and-mouth crisis. SEAC also hinted that 55 was not the final figure of affected sites.

"Our adviser at the joint coordination centre, the nerve centre for the foot-and-mouth crisis, said there are no figures for the number of buried animals, their type or age," a spokeswoman for the National Farmers' Union told Reuters.

"No one actually knows...they are currently doing an audit and we don't know how long it will take."

Officials at the ministry said the audit could take some time, but that they would act on any scientific advice offered.

The NFU spokeswoman said farmers would support any move to dig up cattle carcasses, adding that there was little reason for the ministry to know which animals had been buried in pits.

"There was no reason why MAFF should know, the licensing for the sites was done by the Environment Agency," she said.

More than three million animals, including almost 500,000 cattle, have been slaughtered since foot-and-mouth, a highly infectious livestock disease, struck in late February.

The ministry said as many as 500 cases of foot-and-mouth disease had been confirmed before it received advice from SEAC not to bury cattle. Britain has become more reluctant to burn carcasses on pyres for fear of tourism losses.

The NFU spokeswoman said it could take weeks to identify the animals that had been buried, their ages and the burial sites.

"We don't know how long it will take to find out what's where," she said.


28 May 01 - CJD - British residents fear Mad Cow stockpile sites

Staff Reporter

CBC--Monday 28 May 2001


LONDON - People who live near the northern England village of Blyton are worried about a couple of nondescript warehouses set back from a country road - or more precisely, they're worried about what's inside them.

The warehouse site is one of 13 around the United Kingdom where the dried remains of millions of cattle - more than 300,000 tonnes - is stored.

The cattle were slaughtered beginning in 1996 when the British government decided cattle older than 30 months shouldn't be allowed to enter the food chain for fear they could be contaminated with Mad Cow disease.

Estimates are that between one and three per cent of cattle in that age group could have been incubating Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Mad Cow disease - when they were killed.

Their remains must be incinerated and the resulting ash buried. Even then, it's not 100 per cent sure that the BSE causing agent is completely destroyed.

The recent foot-and-mouth disease crisis has compounded the problem. The emergency destruction of hundreds of thousands of animals has effectively putting the BSE slaughter programme on hold, and delayed efforts to deal with the Mad Cow stockpiles.

So now there is a huge backlog.

"They cannot cope with the amount of animals that we actually have stored, not to mention the ones that are currently being killed because of the over-30-month scheme " said David Lomas, a councillor in Lincolnshire. "So there is a grave fear that we're actually building up a stockpile that we cannot cope with."

The fear for local residents is that bone meal dust will find its way out of warehouses storing it and somehow find its way back into the food chain. Many have stories to tell about rats getting in and out of the warehouses or of dust flying off trucks.

Most people say they realize only a small percentage of the remains might carry the BSE prion, but they say that's still more than enough cause for concern.


28 May 01 - CJD - Protesters block foot-and-mouth burial site

Ananova

PA News--Monday 28 May 2001


More than 100 protesters have gathered at a foot-and-mouth burial site to demonstrate against dumping carcasses from outside the local area.

The demonstrators from Widdrington Station in Northumberland had mounted a roadblock outside the burial site near the Stobswood Brickwork's.

Residents of the village have accused officials of breaking a promise that the site would only be used for the disposal of Northumberland sheep and cattle.

They claim a dozen wagons carrying slaughtered animals from Clitheroe, Lancashire, would be buried there.

A Northumbria police spokeswoman said: "The demonstrators have been moved. It was a peaceful protest and no arrests were made."

Lorraine Donaldson, one of the protest organisers, said: "We are just a dumping ground for everyone else, no matter what it does to our health with BSE and dioxins.

They just do not care about Widdrington. We have always been determined to make a point about this site."

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries has said that the Widdrington site had been chosen as there was no disposal site near the Clitheroe outbreak.

The Widdrington burial site has a capacity for 200,000 animals and is due to close on Thursday.

Last Saturday at the Tow Law burial site in neighbouring County Durham a demonstration was held by 400 protesters calling for the closure of the site.

Today's demonstration came as the number of foot-and-mouth cases rose. The first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Devon for over a week was confirmed near Wembworthy - the 166th confirmed case in the county, and the first since May 19.


28 May 01 - CJD - BSE risk not an issue, claim landfill bosses

by Tina Heath (tina.heath@ecng.co.uk)

Evening Star--Monday 28 May 2001


Management at the landfill site at Great Blakenham called for calm today following claims by a top BSE adviser that there was a risk of developing the human form of Mad Cow disease by drinking contaminated water.

Viridor external affairs manager, Dan Cooks, said that the claims, made in a national newspaper yesterday, had no bearing on the animal disposal going on at the site on the outskirts of Ipswich.

Professor Peter Smith, chairman of the committee that advises ministers on BSE and CJD, told a newspaper that he would not drink tap water near foot-and-mouth burial sites.

There was a risk of contracting the fatal disease especially in areas where cattle more than five years old - the highest BSE risk - had been buried, he said.

The alarming revelations however have no bearing on the Great Blakenham site, said Mr Cook. No cattle had been taken to the site, only sheep and pigs which can carry the disease but can not contract it.

Furthermore, Professor Smith was talking about carcasses buried in makeshift pits across the country and not fully engineered landfill sites, which are protected with linings to limit the risk of seepage.

"Originally the protocol for burial at land fill sites stated that only cattle under five years old would be taken," said Mr Cook. "In reality no cattle at all have been taken to Great Blakenham or any other Viridor sites around the country.

Assurances

"It's been sheep and pigs from the welfare disposal scheme only. We are talking about a completely different form of disposal."

Mr Cook and a spokesman from the environment agency also gave assurances that there were no plans to start burying cattle at the site.

Mr Cook added: "Things at the Great Blakenham site have slowed right down in terms of carcass disposal in line with a decline in the livestock welfare disposal scheme and the welfare cull in the East Anglia region."

The latest figures show that 81 loads have been received at the site to date - the equivalent of 1,329 tons.

"This week we have received seven tons and we have been given no indication when we will receive any more if at all," he added.

Elsewhere however, more animals are expected to be buried after an upsurge in the foot-and-mouth crisis in blackspots such as the Yorkshire Dales.

Professor Smith estimated the risk of developing CJD from contaminated water could be as high as one in 200,000 around burial pits where older cattle have not been incinerated first. In other sites where older cattle had been buried, the contamination risk could be around one in a million.There is a risk associated with landfill sites if there was a problem with the liner.

He also confirmed that ash from fires could spread contaminated particles.


26 May 01 - CJD - CJD on increase as human death toll passes 100

By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent

Telegraph--Saturday 26 May 2001


The death toll for the human form of Mad Cow disease has reached 100 and shows no signs of slowing down, scientists said yesterday.

The landmark figure was revealed as Government advisers warned that elderly patients with variant CJD - the disease linked to eating BSE-infected beef - could be dying undiagnosed and that the true scale of the epidemic could be far worse .

Yesterday, one of Britain's leading epidemiologists warned that the most optimistic predictions of the spread of vCJD could now be ruled out. In the first five months of the year there were 16 confirmed or suspected new cases of vCJD. If new cases continue to emerge at the same rate, the 2001 toll will top last year's total of 28 cases.

Prof Peter Smith, chairman of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), which advises the Government on BSE, CJD and the related sheep disease scrapie, said: "It is an arbitrary landmark, but obviously every additional case is of great concern. But it has reached 100 and some of the earlier predictions were that it would not reach 100. We don't know how it's going to evolve."

An early model of the disease by Prof Roy Anderson, another member of SEAC and an epidemiologist at Imperial College, London, predicted a range of deaths between 100 and 100,000. Prof Anderson warned that the epidemic was still rising.

He said: "It will be a long time before we have an idea of the scale of this epidemic so that the bottom line remains that the future is still uncertain." Although most patients with vCJD are in their 20s and 30s, a patient aged 74 died of the disease last year.

SEAC called for more post mortem examinations to be conducted on elderly people who die with suspected dementia, in case vCJD is being misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's or senility.

A relative of the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Paddy Ashdown died from variant CJD, an inquest was told yesterday.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded on William Armsted, 34, of Lympstone, Devon, at the hearing in Exmouth. Mr Armsted was a nephew of Sir Paddy's wife, Jane.


26 May 01 - CJD - 100th CJD case, and no one knows when it will peak

By Charles Arthur Technology Editor

Independent--Saturday 26 May 2001


The 100th case of variant CJD (vCJD) was confirmed yesterday, six years after the first death and experts now believe that the total will reach thousands in the coming decades.

Other European countries are also taking heed of the epidemic in Britain because they now have cases of BSE and may also have to deal with its human version.

Yet nobody is sure exactly how many people will be affected, nor when the peak will come, despite millions of pounds of research, multiple experiments with animals and statistical analysis.

"There are now 100 cases," said Professor Robert Will, head of the CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh. "That is counting both those who have died and those still alive."

Five years ago, when Stephen Dorrell, then Secretary of State for Health, announced an apparent link between BSE in cattle and the new disease of vCJD in humans, scientists such as Professor Will and Sir John Pattison, who headed the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (Seac), said that it would be a few years before they could predict the shape of the epidemic.

Professor Will is still uncertain today. "The latest analysis [of new cases by month] still shows a significant upward trend , and we don't know how long that will continue," he said. "We don't know who is infected in the population. Knowing that, and the average incubation period, and the risk of developing the disease once infected, would help us enormously."

He added: "It still remains an exceedingly rare disease but each case is a tragedy."

Last year the number of cases almost doubled to 27; so far this year there are 15 confirmed and probable cases, implying that the figure for the year will be another record.

Professor Peter Smith, the acting chairman of Seac, is concerned about the possible under-reporting of the disease among elderly people who may have beenmisdiagnosed with senile dementia. He would like more postmortems carried out to pick up on missed cases.


26 May 01 - CJD - Culled cattle may spread BSE in water supplies

By Elizabeth Piper

YAHOO--Saturday 26 May 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - Officials are scrambling to find cattle that had been culled and buried to combat foot-and-mouth after scientists said the carcasses might have to be dug up to protect humans from Mad Cow disease.

Scientists confirmed that older cattle, born after strict measures were put in place in 1996 to stop the spread of the brain-wasting disease, could spread Mad Cow disease to humans by contaminating water supplies and so would have to be exhumed.

The scientists, members of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, said up to 10,000 cattle over five years old had been buried in what so far amounted to at least 55 sites across Britain.

"The group agreed with the Environment Agency that the sites where over five year cattle may have been buried would need to be examined on a case by case basis, and appropriate risk assessments carried out," SEAC said in a statement.

"In many cases, these would probably show that there was no need for action. At the other extreme, there might be sites where pollution was occurring and where immediate action would be needed which could include digging up the carcasses, removing authorisation for a private water supply, or creation of a barrier to prevent pollution."

It said that according to a recent unpublished scientific paper, most body fluids could have leaked out of the carcasses within around two months -- giving officials little time to pin down the location of all the sites involved.

Earlier, a UK scientists told Reuters officials might have to dig up carcasses after SEAC's advice to burn all cattle carcasses and reduce the risk of spreading BSE was received by the ministry too late. The agriculture ministry has said it most probably had buried older cattle.

Scientists say contaminated water could transmit to humans what is believed to cause new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) -- mutated prion proteins that can cause the brain to become spongy and wither.

A hundred people in the UK have died of the human form of BSE.

STILL FINDING SITES

Officials said they were still trying to identify the sites where older cattle had been buried during the early days of the foot-and-mouth crisis. SEAC also hinted that 55 was not the final figure of affected sites.

"Our adviser at the joint coordination centre, the nerve centre for the foot-and-mouth crisis, said there are no figures for the number of buried animals, their type or age," a spokeswoman for the National Farmers' Union told Reuters.

"No one actually knows...they are currently doing an audit and we don't know how long it will take."

Officials at the ministry said the audit could take some time, but that they would act on any scientific advice offered.

The NFU spokeswoman said farmers would support any move to dig up cattle carcasses, adding that there was little reason for the ministry to know which animals had been buried in pits.

"There was no reason why MAFF should know, the licensing for the sites was done by the Environment Agency," she said.

More than three million animals, including almost 500,000 cattle, have been slaughtered since foot-and-mouth, a highly infectious livestock disease, struck in late February.

The ministry said as many as 500 cases of foot-and-mouth disease had been confirmed before it received advice from SEAC not to bury cattle. Britain has become more reluctant to burn carcasses on pyres for fear of tourism losses.

The NFU spokeswoman said it could take weeks to identify the animals that had been buried, their ages and the burial sites.

"We don't know how long it will take to find out what's where," she said.


26 May 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease In The Water?

Reuters

YAHOO--Saturday 26 May 2001


'Gaining pace'

Scientists advising the Government on the disease have now warned the epidemic could be gaining pace.

Earlier estimates of the scale of the epidemic had not forecast the number of cases reaching 100.

Last year the total number of confirmed and probable cases was 28. So far this year the tally is 16, including the 100th victim.

'Bad news'

Professor Roy Anderson, from Imperial College, London, a member of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) said: "Last year was bad news, and this year looks as if it's going to be higher than last year.

"It will be a long time before we have an idea of the scale of the epidemic. The bottom line is that the future is still uncertain."

An inquest heard yesterday that a relative of the wife of former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Paddy Ashdown died from vCJD. A verdict of misadventure was recorded on 34-year-old William Armsted by Greater Devon coroner Richard van Oppen at a hearing in Exmouth. Mr Armsted, of Lympstone, Devon, was a nephew of Sir Paddy's wife Jane. He died on April 17 and is thought to have been the 98th victim of vCJD.


26 May 01 - CJD - Villagers are reassured after two local CJD deaths

Staff Reporter

Devon Today---Saturday 26 May 2001


Devon villagers worried by the discovery of two tragic vCJD cases on their doorsteps were told today not to panic.

The reassurance came from North and East Devon Health Authority's consultant in communicable diseases, Dr Mark Kealy.

He said although the authority was on the alert for rises in vCJD cases, there was no known link between the two deaths.

He was speaking after an inquest on Thursday was told how William Armstead, a relative of former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, had died of the human form of BSE.

The 34-year-old graphic designer lived with his family in Lympstone.

And it was also revealed that a 38-year-old Royal Marine colour sergeant, based at the Lympstone camp, had died after apparently contracting the disease.

It emerged today that the health authority was not told of the Marine's case - because vCJD is not a notifiable disease. Dr Kealy said the reason was that the National CJD Surveillance unit in Edinburgh would deal with any new cases.

He said: "All specimens from a case will go to Edinburgh. If we are asked to assist, we will, but in terms of controlling the disease, there is really nothing for us to do.

"I don't think making vCJD a notifiable disease would do more than is already being done."

Dr Kealy said they were not aware of any more suspected cases in the county. He said: "CJD is something we keep an eye on, in view of the fact that the number of cases are increasing."

And Prof Robert Will, director of the CJD Unit at Edinburgh, said they tracked very closely any suspected cases.

"CJD is a terrible disease and anyone who has it would have to be seen by a neurologist," he said. "They would then let us know that they are treating a suspected case.

"We follow up every suspected case we are made aware of. But usually only half of them turn out to be confirmed cases.

"We then visit the hospital where they are being treated and go and talk to the patient and their family. We do extensive research into their backgrounds, occupation and diet.

"This is then all kept and compared with any other cases that we know about to see if there are any links."

He said it was unlikely that just because two cases were identified in one area that there was a link between them.

"The recent cases at Leicester are the only known cluster where there was an identifiable link," he said. "All the other cases we have dealt with have not been linked."

He said that the disease had a long incubation period, so exposure to it could have taken place up to 20 years earlier. This meant that there was a chance there would be even more cases over the next few years.

"Cases are already on the increase, which is very worrying," he said. "We know it is caused by eating BSE-infected material and that many people in Britain would have been exposed to it.

"It is possible that there will be many more cases in the future. It is not possible to predict what will happen. It could all stop next year, or we could continue seeing new cases for the next 20 years.

"It is a matter of great concern to us all and we are doing all we can to fight it."

He said the unit, which is based at the Western General Hospital, has just been given Department of Health funding for the next nine years and would soon be moving to a purpose-built building. The unit currently has 38 staff.

But North Devon mum Annie McVey, whose daughter Claire, 15, died from CJD a year ago, said more should be done to investigate the disease.

The 43-year-old said she did not think the system worked well enough at present.

"It amazes me - if you don't know there is a risk, then it should be investigated until you know there isn't one, not wait until it becomes a risk to people and try and do something about it then."

Mrs McVey has offered families of the two victims any assistance she can to help them come to terms with the tragedies.

"I still don't know how Claire got the disease. She wasn't a hamburger girl - we never had a lot of meat - and she only really liked chicken," said Mrs McVey, who has developed her own research network in an attempt to find answers.

"Your life is never the same again, because it's all about not knowing why it happened.

"Sometimes I think that knowing what happened will not make any difference and life would be far easier if I kept quiet.

"But that's the reason all this has happened. Somebody decided to keep quiet about this thing when the information was put in front of them, instead of doing something about it.

"That's what killed my daughter and if I keep quiet and do nothing, it could be somebody else's daughter, or son, or husband or wife.

"I don't know if I'm doing any good, but there's nothing else I can do. I will keep going until I find out why CJD has happened and try to stop to it."

Mrs McVey said the disease had had a devastating effect on her, her partner Wayne and her son James. Her daughter, a pupil at Ilfracombe Community College, died at the Children's Hospice South West after an 18-month illness.

Mrs McVey, a nurse, believes her knowledge of the medical profession and its terminology often puts her in a position to pass on knowledge or information to other families of CJD victims.

And she spends much of her time researching the disease.

She said: "I don't want to end up like a Mary Whitehouse-type figure where people begin to think of me as a relentless one-woman campaign against the disease.

"I see things in the papers, on TV or on the Internet and I want to get on the phone to talk to people about it but I'm worried about overloading them."

She admits that it is still difficult coming to terms with what happened to Claire.

"I've come to some level of acceptance but I still can't quite believe she's gone forever."


26 May 01 - CJD - BSE adviser wouldn't drink water near foot-and-mouth burial sites

Ananova

PA News--Saturday 26 May 2001


The government's top BSE adviser says he wouldn't drink tap water near foot-and-mouth burial sites.

Professor Peter Smith warns of a risk of developing the human form of Mad Cow disease by drinking contaminated water.

He estimates the risk of developing vCJD could be as high as one in 200,000 from burial pits where older cattle were not first incinerated. He reportedly said at other sites where cattle have been burned and then buried, the contamination risk is about one in a million.

There are 90 sites across the country where cattle more than five years old - the highest BSE risk - have been buried. He told the Daily Express the risk was only from cattle over five years old.

According to the newspaper, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Health have not ruled out digging up burial sites after urgent risk assessments have been carried out.

According to the article, Professor Smith said any contamination of water supplies would have an immediate impact on the lives of people living nearby.

The professor, who chairs a committee which advises ministers on BSE and CJD, is quoted as saying: "Next to a burial pit wouldn't be the first place I would want to live. I would want to do more tests on the site. I would want to have some idea what the risks were.

"If there were a large number of animals buried over the age of five years I would not be happy drinking the tap water near one of those burial sites."

The news comes as the total number of confirmed foot-and-mouth cases in the UK reached 1,639.

It has also been reported agriculture officials knew of the "significant risks" of feeding swill to pigs long before the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. A memo written by a Maff vet suggests the practice was "a timebomb waiting to go off".


26 May 01 - CJD - UK warns of BSE infection in water supplies near foot-and-mouth burial sites



pa#---Saturday 26 May 2001


LONDON (AFX) - The government's top BSE adviser has warned of the dangers of drinking tap water near foot-and-mouth burial sites, the BBC reported.

Professor Peter Smith estimates the risk of developing the human form of BSE, known as CJD, through contaminated water could be as high as one in 200,000, in burial pits where older cattle have not first been incinerated, the Express newspaper also reported.


26 May 01 - CJD - UK rushes to identify culled cattle burial sites

Staff Reporter

News Asia--Saturday 26 May 2001


UK officials are scrambling to find cattle that had been culled and buried to combat foot-and-mouth disease, after scientists said the buried carcasses might spread the human form of Mad Cow disease.

Scientists confirmed that older cattle could spread Mad Cow disease to humans, by contaminating water supplies and so would have to be exhumed.

The scientists, members of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, said up to 10,000 cattle over five years old had been buried in at least 55 sites across Britain.

They said that according to a recent unpublished scientific paper, most body fluids could have leaked out of the carcasses within around two months.

The agriculture ministry was apparently warned too late about the risks of contamination, from burying carcasses.

A hundred people in the UK have died of the human form of BSE.

Meanwhile a government agency has warned of a possible risk from drinking milk from cattle close to pyres of burning carcasses, because of the danger of increased levels of dioxin.

Britain's Food Standards Agency has warned of increased levels of dioxin, especially in whole milk and whole milk products from animals within two kilometers of pyres.

But it said it had no solid evidence yet, and was waiting for results of tests taken near the pyres.

Andrew Wadge, toxicologist, said, "Once they (dioxins) are in the body they stay in the body for a long period of time and then, obviously, as we consume dairy produce and fat and oily fish, then we will get small amounts of dioxins transferred into our own bodies."

The dioxin warning is but the latest in a series of health scares from the prolonged foot and mouth disease in the country.

And in another development, the US has lifted its meat import ban on several European countries Austria, imposed to prevent the spread of the foot and mouth disease.

The countries include Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, but not for the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Greece.

However, US officials stressed that the import restrictions for all products previously put in place in response to the Mad Cow disease will remain in place.


26 May 01 - CJD - Shadow of fear follows the cull

Staff Reporter

Teesside.co.uk---Saturday 26 May 2001


Fears that the foot-and-mouth crisis could pose perils for human health were deepening today as a Government watchdog warned that cancer-causing chemicals from giant pyres may have ended up in dairy products.

The Food Standard Agency's bleak warning also follows worries that BSE-infected animals culled and buried during the epidemic may now have to be dug up and burned because of the threat of Mad Cow disease spreading to humans through water supplies.

Ministry of Agriculture officials yesterday moved to quell fears over both scares, insisting that all methods of animal disposal had been undertaken following advice from experts.

The FSA said higher levels of potentially harmful dioxins may be present in dairy herds within two kilometres of pyres which were built to dispose of thousands of infected animals but have now stopped.

But it stressed that tests, the results of which will be known by the end of June, had yet to confirm any increases.

The agency said fatty products in which dioxins are most commonly found, such as whole milk, cream, soft cheese and yoghurt, were most likely to be affected. Any potential risk could be avoided by switching to low-fat alternatives and products made up from a number of herds, such as supermarket milk.

However, the FSA's frankness was greeted by campaigners who demanded a full inquiry into the Government's handling of the crisis.

Charles Secrett, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said: "The Government must give a full account of its handling of the foot and mouth crisis to a public inquiry.''

Meanwhile, fears that water supplies could be contaminated with BSE continued after the Department of Health said that risk assessments would be undertaken at burial sites.

The estimated risk of a person contracting vCJD from water contaminated by buried ash is one in a million, but that risk, though still minute, increases six-fold when intact carcasses are buried.

One more case of foot-and-mouth had been recorded by 3pm yesterday, at Clitheroe in North Yorkshire, taking the total number of outbreaks to 1,636.

Worried villagers were today planning to protest near a controversial foot-and-mouth burial site.

Residents of Tow Law, in County Durham, are angry about the burial of carcasses at the nearby Inkerman site.

Previous demonstrations have already led to the arrest of six women for public order offences.

Non-agricultural businesses struck by the foot and mouth crisis are being thrown a lifeline of up to 15,000.

The pay-outs are part of a 2.5m package of measures drawn up by Yorkshire Forward and regional partners.

Meanwhile, no new foot and mouth cases were reported in the region today.


26 May 01 - CJD - Cancer Fears Over Milk

Reuters

YAHOO--Saturday 26 May 2001


'Minimal risk'

A Government watchdog has warned that milk, yoghurt, cream and soft cheeses may be contaminated with dioxins.

The Food Standards Agency stressed only a "few thousand" people who buy products directly from farms were at a "very small" risk.

It said dairy herds within 1.24 miles of the pyres, which were set up to burn the carcasses of thousands of animals, may have been contaminated.

Test results, which will be known by the end of June, have so far proved negative.

BSE fears

FSA chairman Sir John Krebs said the warning had been issued because thousands of herds were being put to graze in infected pastures.

About 900 farms have been told to warn consumers of the potential risks.

The warnings follows Friday's revelations that some animals infected with BSE may spread Mad Cow disease to humans through the water supply. They may now have to be dug up.

A Maff spokesman said everything had been done to minimise the risk of spreading both BSE and dioxins during the disposal of carcasses.


26 May 01 - CJD - Milk feared to contain cancer-linked dioxins

Jamie Wilson

Guardian--Saturday 26 May 2001


Milk in a small number of farms close to foot and mouth funeral pyres could have become contaminated with potentially dangerous dioxins, the food standards agency warned yesterday.

But the government watchdog stressed that the risk was small and did not apply to bulk milk sold by supermarkets and large dairies.

As a precautionary measure, however, it has advised people consuming whole milk products from farms where animals have grazed within 2km of foot and mouth pyres to consider varying their diet to include milk from other sources until the results of tests on dioxin levels are known. The agency has written to 15,000 of Britain's 30,000 dairy farmers warning that there may be a "slightly higher, although still very small, risk" for customers consuming full fat milk, cream, yoghurt and soft cheese bought from farm shops and very small dairies.

Despite the huge mailshot the FSA said it was likely that yesterday's warning applied to only around 900 farmers.

The agency said that suspect milk bought by commercial dairies would not constitute a health risk because after being mixed with large quantities of unaffected milk any possible overall rise in dioxin levels would be negligible.

Sir John Krebs, chairman of the food standards agency, said: "This is highly precautionary advice for a very small number of consumers. It is for people who only consume whole milk and milk products that have come exclusively from animals near pyres.

"It is unlikely there will be any health concerns but we need to double check... It is right that consumers who may be affected have the information to make their own decisions where there is uncertainty."

High exposure to chemicals in the dioxin family has been associated with a variety of health problems, including cancer, lowered sperm counts, behavioural problems and diabetes.

Even if higher than expected levels of the chemical were found in milk it still represented a very small risk to consumers as the harmful effects from dioxin intake build up over a lifetime and not just over a matter of weeks.

Tests of milk, soil, eggs and grass started at the beginning of this month in Devon, Wales, the border region of Scotland and Cumbria and will be completed at the end of next month. Testing was timed to ensure that the highest levels of dioxins would be measured. Worried consumers should switch to low fat dairy products such as skimmed milk, Sir John said, as dioxins were usually found only in products with high fat content.

Sir John admitted that yesterday's warning had the potential to create a food scare but that it was the agency's intention to be open. He said: "We thought that if we kept people in the dark and said nothing until the end of June and it turned out the levels of dioxins were higher [than expected] then people would begin to ask us when we started asking these questions."

Charles Secrett, executive director of Friends of the Earth, congratulated the food standards agency for "beginning to live up to its promise to be an independent food safety body".

But he added: "This announcement is yet more worrying news for farmers and families in foot and mouth areas. The government must give a full account of its handling of the foot and mouth crisis to a public inquiry."

- The organiser of the Glastonbury festival yesterday came a step closer to holding a concert in aid of farmers hit by BSE and foot and mouth. Cardiff's Millennium Stadium has offered Michael Eavis a number of dates throughout the summer and autumn for a farm aid event.


25 May 01 - CJD - CJD claims 100th victim

Staff Reporter

BBC--Friday 25 May 2001


One hundred people have now died from the human version of Mad Cow disease v-CJD. The milestone was announced by government scientists on Thursday.

They warned the number of cases could be gathering pace.

Some scientists had predicted that the number of fatalies would never reach three figures.

Last year the total number of confirmed and probable cases was 28. So far this year the tally is 16.

Professor Roy Anderson, from Imperial College, London, a member of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) said: "Last year was bad news, and this year looks as if it's going to be higher than last year.

"It will be a long time before we have an idea of the scale of the epidemic.

"The bottom line is that the future is still uncertain.

"All I can say at the moment is that I doubt that it's going to get better."

It is not clear whether the 100th case was someone confirmed as having died from the disease, or a "probable" victim.

A "probable" case could either be a person alive and displaying symptoms of vCJD, or a death where post-mortem results are still awaited.

On May 4, when the last official figures were issued by the Department of Health, the number of definite and probable cases stood at 99. A total of six people were still alive.

Inquest

The news came on the day an inquest heard that a relative of the wife of former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Paddy Ashdown died from vCJD.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded on 34-year-old William Armsted by Greater Devon coroner Richard van Oppen at a hearing in Exmouth.

Mr Armsted, of Lympstone, Devon, was a nephew of Sir Paddy's wife Jane. He died on April 17 and is thought to have been the 98th victim of vCJD.

Research carried out last year at the University of Oxford, UK, suggests that the likelihood of millions of people dying from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) are slim.

However, researchers have suggested that deaths could still reach as high as 136,000 .


25 May 01 - CJD - Ashdown family relative died of CJD

Ananova

PA News--Friday 25 May 2001


A relative of former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Paddy Ashdown died from variant CJD, an inquest has been told.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded on 34-year-old William Armsted by Greater Devon coroner Richard van Oppen. Mr Armsted, of Lympstone, Devon, was a nephew of Sir Paddy's wife, Jane.

The coroner said the symptoms of his illness were first noted in March last year. Mr Armsted, a computer aided design operator, died on April 17 this year.

The coroner said that, on the balance of probability, the route of transmission of the infective agent was by random consumption of a meat product contaminated to some extent by BSE.

Mr Armsted's death is understood to be the 98th in the UK from variant CJD.


25 May 01 - CJD - Culled cattle may have to be exhumed says government adviser

By Elizabeth Piper

YAHOO--Friday 25 May 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - A British scientist says officials may have to dig up the carcasses of cattle culled to combat a foot-and-mouth epidemic because they could spread Mad Cow disease.

A group of scientists, members of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, is expected to advise the government next month that it will need to assess each burial site of cattle over five years to see whether the carcasses need to be exhumed and burned, one of the scientists said.

Asked whether the bodies of cattle that were older -- and so more at risk of carrying Mad Cow disease -- would need to be dug up to protect humans, a member of the committee told Reuters on Thursday: "I think it will probably be by a case-by-case basis...depending on the geology of the area and the method of culling."

The scientists had advised the government to incinerate cattle carcasses to minimise any risk of spreading Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), to humans via water supplies.

But on Wednesday the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said the advice to incinerate more-at-risk cattle had been received too late, and older cattle with Mad Cow disease might have been buried.

A spokesman said as many as 500 cases of foot-and-mouth disease had been confirmed before it received advice from SEAC not to bury animals. He said the ministry did not know how many cattle, and of what age, were buried in pits.

FORMAL ADVICE AWAITED

"A sub-group of SEAC met this morning to discuss issues relating to disposal...but we have not yet received the answer," a ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Earlier, scientists said they would have to ask other members of SEAC to formalise their advice and agree on the wording before contacting the government -- a process which could take up to a month.

"The preferred option of disposal for cattle over five years was incineration and that would destroy the BSE agent," Peter Smith, acting chairman of the committee, said.

"But there are very, very small numbers of cattle (over five years old)."

Cattle over five years old, born after UK measures were implemented to stop the spread of BSE, are more likely to be infected with the fatal brain-wasting disease.

Scientists believe infected carcasses in the ground could contaminate soil and water supplies, threatening further Mad Cow disease outbreaks in livestock and passing to humans what is thought to cause new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -- mutated prion proteins.

So far more than 80 people in Britain have died from vCJD, which was first identified in 1996 and has been linked with eating meat from BSE-infected cattle. Earlier on Thursday, Britain announced its 100th vCJD victim.

More than three million animals have been burned or buried since foot-and-mouth first struck in late February, but politicians have been reluctant to build more funeral pyres for culled livestock, fearing tourism losses.

Tony Blair was forced to postpone a general election from May to June because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, and has urged tourists that the countryside is "open for business".


25 May 01 - CJD - Red Cross reacts to Mad Cow disease scare

By Melissa M. Janoski

Citizen's Voice---Friday 25 May 2001


Joseph Michalczyk is the type of person the American Red Cross hates to lose.

Michalczyk donates blood faithfully several times a year. But not anymore, under new Red Cross regulations announced Monday.

The Red Cross, taking a cautious approach to the human form of Mad Cow disease, banned donations from people who have spent a total of six months in Europe or three months in Britain since 1980. The new rules begin in September.

Michalczyk, an Abington Heights High School English teacher whose extensive travels include leading trips for students, falls into the first category.

"I'm one of those multigallon donors," he said. "I'm kind of surprised at it. And I'm concerned, of course. I don't want to think it would be anything serious, but it makes me wonder that they are concerned."

The new rules raise an issue he hasn't considered before. But he's not worried about his next trip, taking a group of students to Italy in a few weeks.

Like Michalczyk, about 25 percent of local donors are associated with high schools or colleges, said Molly Groody, spokeswoman for the Red Cross. Because students and faculty are likely to travel extensively, they are the potential donors most likely to be banned by the new rules, she said. For example, many local colleges have programs that send students to Europe for several months or more.

Overall, Groody doesn't expect a big loss. Not much changed locally after earlier bans involving travel and Mad Cow, she said.

Nationally, the new rules are expected to cost the Red Cross 8 percent of its donors, or 400,000 per year.

Groody's biggest concern is that people will misunderstand the new rules and needlessly stop donating. More donors would be lost if people who have spent just a few weeks in Europe stop giving.

The Red Cross approach is more cautious than federal rules. The concern is a brain-wasting illness, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is linked to Mad Cow. There is no proof that it can be transmitted through blood transfusions, but concern that so little is known.

The disease appears to come from eating infected beef and is associated with Europe, especially Britain. It is believed to have killed nearly 100 people in Europe since 1995, mostly in Britain.

The Red Cross has long barred donations by some people to avoid various infections. Donations are not accepted from men who have ever had sex with another man. People who have had tattoos, been pregnant or had some diseases are subject to waiting periods of various lengths before donating blood.

Local blood supplies are tight, but not at crisis levels.

"We are going into a holiday weekend, so we are hoping not to get into any kind of shortage," Groody said.

Donors with O and A blood types are especially needed. Groody is puzzled by short supplies of A positive blood, the most common blood type in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


25 May 01 - CJD - Senate passes 'Mad Cow' bill



DVM Magazine--Friday 25 May 2001


Washington-Legislation that would enlist government agencies in preventing the spread of Mad Cow disease in the U.S. was received with unanimous U.S. Senate approval.

The bill, , sponsored by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) which is pending House approval, establishes a task force comprised of several agencies, such as the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The task force would conduct a six-month review on Mad Cow and other livestock-related diseases.

"The genie is already out of the bottle," says Campbell, in reference to the Mad Cow epidemic in Europe. "We can't just have our heads in the sand."

The legislation would require the task force, spearheaded by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, to file a report with Congress in 30 days explaining how it coordinates activities and communicates information to the public. The report would evaluate whether the administration requires more funding or additional legislative authorities to further its efforts.

Six months after filing, the task force would submit a second comprehensive report on the economic and public health impact if the diseases spread to the U.S.

The task force will also study foot-and-mouth disease.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FDA clears irradiation as animal feed treatment Washington-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved irradiation of animal feed and pet food to kill Salmonella bacteria, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The agency reports the approved technique is safe and causes changes in foods before cooking. Irradiating animal food including cattle feed and pet foods, according to the FDA, would protect animals and humans. It would protect against people getting sick after handling feed containing Salmonella.


25 May 01 - CJD - Brain diseases discovery

Staff Reporter

BBC--Friday 25 May 2001


Scientists have made a breakthrough that could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions.

The work appears to prove that these diseases are caused, at least in part, by mysterious clumps of defective beta amyloid proteins that build up in the brain.

It has long been known that these clumps disrupt the function of nerve cells. But it was unclear whether the clumps caused disease, or were a by-product of it.

US researchers from the University of Sandford have shown that the former is true.

Master enzyme

They have proved a link between the accumulation of the protein clumps and a "master" enzyme found in cells called proteasome.

Proteasome effectively cleans cells by disposing of unwanted and abnormal proteins.

However, the Sandford scientists showed that if abnormal proteins start to clump together, this neutralises the ability of proteasome to keep the cell clean.

In turn, this leads to ever more clumping of abnormal protein.

The build up of protein clumps in nerve cells appears to be gradual, and the scientists believe that may explain why diseases like Alzheimer's usually do not become apparent until later in life.

They produced cells which glowed green under UV light when the proteasome mechanism was not working.

When genes associated with Huntingdon's disease were inserted into the cells, they turned bright green in a matter of hours, and began to fill with protein clumps.

Second study

A similar conclusion was reached in a separate study on mice by US and Japanese scientists from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Wako-shi, Japan, and Harvard University Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Their work suggests that it might be more effective to destroy protein clumps once they have formed, rather to try to prevent their formation in the first place.

The researchers found that even a small drop in the activity of another natural enzyme - such as that which might occur naturally with ageing - that breaks down the protein clusters led to a significant increase in their formation.

They suggested that it might be possible to develop a new treatment based on boosting the activity of this enzyme, neprilysin.

Dr Donald Lehmann, of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said a number of important questions remained to be answered.

"Will neprilysin prove as important in human brain as it evidently is in mice? What side-effects will result from increasing the activity of this powerful enzyme? Most important, how central is beta amyloid to Alzheimer's? Will blocking its accumulation prevent the disease?"

Both studies are published in the journal Science.


25 May 01 - CJD - McDonald's Says Sorry in Beef Over French Fries

By Ted Howard

WorldlyInvestor.com---Friday 25 May 2001


Global fast-food giant apologizes for using beef to flavor its fries, but it shouldn't hurt shares.

Already struggling with a couple of bad quarters and trying to reassure investors and customers alike of the source and quality of its food, fast-food giant McDonald's (MCD) today apologized for using a beef extract in cooking its french fries.

Using the beef byproduct angered vegetarians around the world and left the company exposed to lawsuits. The news has also caused demonstrations in India, where a majority of the population is Hindu, which shuns beef products due to religious restrictions.

But despite the latest news, analysts say McDonald's probably won't suffer more than it already has -- in other words, the worst of the company's recent troubles probably are already built into the stock.

The apology is "not really a big deal," said Tony Howard, an analyst at J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons in Louisville, KY. The quarter ahead is "still going to be difficult" however, but "it's still good that they went ahead and were proactive" about the issue.

Although on an upswing lately, McDonald's has seen its share price sag over the past two quarters amid fears of tainted beef, which was sparked by a recent outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in the UK. Fears of mad-cow disease have also hit the company's profits.

"I think a bigger concern was mad-cow and hoof and mouth disease, which hurt their European sales," Howard said. Europe represents about 3% of the company's total sales. "They're doing the right things but it's a big company. It could take a while" for the stock to regain momentum.

McDonald's for years has claimed that its french fries were cooked with 100% vegetable oil, but that claim was challenged in early May when three vegetarians filed a suit that said the company was "fraudulently concealing the existence of beef in their french fries." Two of the plaintiffs said they are Hindus who must avoid meat.

The beef used in the fries is beef tallow, which is from beef fat and used in many foodstuffs for flavoring or its other qualities. Kraft, a division of Philip Morris (MO), uses beef tallow in its Jell-O brand gelatin.

McDonald's shares Thursday were up 23 cents at $30.47 in late-afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has underperformed the S&P 500 index by more than 9% since the beginning of the year.