Document Directory

07 May 00 - CJD - Animal rights peer has CJD
07 May 00 - CJD - RSPCA boss has tests for CJD
06 May 00 - CJD - Peer tested for CJD
06 May 00 - CJD - Peer Undergoes Tests For CJD
02 May 00 - CJD - Crusading MP accuses Health Department of negligence
29 Apr 00 - CJD - 'I watched my vibrant daughter just waste away' for nine years
29 Apr 00 - CJD - Britain may harbour CJD timebomb, says professor
29 Apr 00 - CJD - CJD study shows no sign of epidemic
29 Apr 00 - CJD - Experts refuse to rule out epidemic
29 Apr 00 - CJD - Nightmare is not over, warns victim's mother
29 Apr 00 - CJD - Tonsils research finds no evidence of CJD epidemic
28 Apr 00 - CJD - CJD study fails to provide answers
28 Apr 00 - CJD - Keeping the lid on CJD
28 Apr 00 - CJD - Sheep to be tested for 'hidden' BSE
28 Apr 00 - CJD - Research allays fears of CJD epidemic
28 Apr 00 - CJD - Research to reveal size of CJD threat
22 Apr 00 - CJD - BSE cases grow as French farmers use banned feed
21 Apr 00 - CJD - By Melissa Kite, Political Reporter
21 Apr 00 - CJD - Food firms urge inquiry into French BSE cases
21 Apr 00 - CJD - BSE 'to die out in seven years'
21 Apr 00 - CJD - Tories call for French beef ban over BSE
19 Apr 00 - CJD - Farmers Ignore Law By Failing To Report Scrapie
19 Apr 00 - CJD - Panic over 'third way' of mad cow infection
18 Apr 00 - CJD - Untagged flocks will cost farmers
18 Apr 00 - CJD - Beef to be labelled by country of origin
17 Apr 00 - CJD - French stand by beef ban after warning
09 Apr 00 - CJD - Scientists fear thousands (400,000+) may have CJD
31 Mar 00 - CJD - Farmers in France sue feed firms over BSE



07 May 00 - CJD - Animal rights peer has CJD

Deborah Colcutt and Lois Rogers

Sunday Times ... Sunday 07 May 2000


A Leading member of the RSPCA has been found to have the brain disease CJD after an illness lasting three weeks .

Neurologists at Charing Cross hospital in London said yesterday that Baroness Wharton, a vice-president of the association, was "very seriously ill" with the debilitating condition, which causes cavities in the brain.

However, fears that her illness may have been linked to her work with animals have proved unjustified. She is suffering from the sporadic form of the condition, which can occur at random. The recently identified "variant" form of CJD is the human version of "mad cow" disease.

Ziki Robertson, 66, is a popular cross-bencher in the House of Lords with a keen interest in animal welfare and photography. Her illness was first thought to be encephalitis, but her condition worsened and she was unable to recognise friends or family.

In December she took the photographs for a book called Parliament in Pictures, with Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP. "She is a brilliant photographer, a bubbly person and the rare type of peer who listens to both sides then makes up her mind. We are terribly shocked," Mitchell said.

She is being treated by Angus Kennedy, a consultant neurologist, who said: "She is very seriously ill. She has undergone neurological investigations, including tests for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease."

New-variant CJD has claimed more than 50 victims. Sporadic CJD, which is more common, causes dementia, followed by the gradual destruction of all bodily functions.

Wharton, who was widowed in 1996, has three sons and a daughter. An RSPCA spokesman said: "We are devastated to hear of her illness."


07 May 00 - CJD - RSPCA boss has tests for CJD

By Louise Jury

Independent ... Sunday 07 May 2000


One of the leading lights of the RSPCA was in hospital yesterday undergoing tests for CJD, the human form of mad cow disease.

Baroness Ziki Wharton, who has been a vice-president of the animal charity for the past three years, was "seriously unwell" in Charing Cross Hospital in west London, her doctor said.

Angus Kennedy, a consultant neurologist at the West London Neurosciences Centre, said: "She has undergone a series of neurological investigations, including tests for Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease."

New variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease which emerged in 1995, is believed to be acquired from eating beef contaminated with BSE. At least 50 people in Britain have fallen victim to the progressively debilitating disease since it was identified.

However, it is understood that the Baroness may be suffering instead from a form of CJD unconnected to cows.

Peter Davies, director general of the RSPCA, said Baroness Wharton had shown a lifelong commitment to animal welfare. "We're all very concerned to hear that someone who has devoted so much time and energy to animals is seriously ill in hospital."

She supported MP Michael Foster's Bill to outlaw hunting and was concerned about the practice of illegal puppy farming which has now been banned and the quarantining of pets which is now being replaced with pet passports.


06 May 00 - CJD - Peer tested for CJD

Staff Reporter

Telegraph ... Saturday 06 May 2000


The vice president of the RSPCA has been admitted to hospital to undergo tests for the human form of mad cow disease, it was revealed today.

Baroness Ziki Wharton, 66, a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, was "seriously unwell" in Charing Cross Hospital in west London. She has undergone a series of neurological scans, including tests for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or variant CJD.

Variant CJD first emerged in 1995 during the mad cow crisis and is believed to be acquired from beef infected with Bovine Spongiform Encaphalopothy (BSE). To date the disease has killed more than 50 people in Britain.


06 May 00 - CJD - Peer Undergoes Tests For CJD

From the Press Association

Guardian ... Saturday 06 May 2000


Vice President of the RSPCA, Baroness Ziki Wharton, is in hospital undergoing tests for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Baroness Wharton, 66, a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, is "seriously unwell" in Charing Cross Hospital in west London.

Her doctor, Angus Kennedy, a consultant neurologist at the West London Neurosciences Centre, says: "She has undergone a series of neurological investigations, including tests for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease."

The baroness is believed to be suffering sporadic CJD, which is not connected to variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease.

Mr Kennedy says: "The media's respect for the privacy of Baroness Wharton and her family at this difficult time would be gratefully appreciated."

The baroness, who has three sons and a daughter, has been vice president of the RSPCA since 1997.

A spokeswoman for the organisation says: "We are concerned to hear that Baroness Wharton is ill in hospital and we wish her well."

Her recreations listed in Who's Who include animal welfare, photography and skiing.


02 May 00 - CJD - Crusading MP accuses Health Department of negligence

Staff Reporter

Daily Express ... Tuesday 02 April 2000


Seven vaccines potentially at risk from BSE and given to millions of children can be identified for the first time by the Daily Express.

But alarmingly there is no record of which children received the jabs, produced between 1988 and 1989 , at the start of Britain's "mad cow" crisis.

The vaccines, using UK-sourced cattle material, were made by two companies, Wellcome and Smithkline, despite warnings that they could pose a risk. The seven vaccines are:

1. Smithkline's MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) , finally replaced "by end of 1992 approximately";

2. Wellcome's combined Diphtheria and Tetanus , last issued by the company in June 1991 , with a June 1993 expiry date;

3. Wellcome's DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis) last issued again in June 1991 , with a November 1993 expiry date;

4. Wellcome's single component Diphtheria vaccine, last issued in October 1991 , with a November 1993 expiry date;

5. Wellcome's Tetanus , last issued in December 1991 , with a December 1993 expiry date.

[6. Wellcome's oral polio vaccine, last issue and expiry dates are "not known" .

7. Smithkline's inactivated polio vaccine, apparently used only overseas .

Last night Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who has led a crusade on the issue, accused the Department of Health of being "potentially criminally negligent " for allowing the BSE-risk vaccines to be administered to at least two million children for the five years to 1993 .

But a Department of Health spokeswoman said that if routine vaccinations had been stopped there would have been a "real risk" of serious and potentially fatal infectious diseases among children.

She said all of today's vaccines are produced from non-UK bovine material, and insisted the old UK-based vaccines "appear to have no role to date" in the development of the human version of mad cow disease, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD).

So far 53 people have been killed by the disease, another dozen are dying and the victims include three children , aged 13 to 15.

[Web editor's note: Today's DoH report shows 68 nvCJD victims as of 28 April 00. http://www.doh.gov.uk/CJD/stats/may00.htm ]

Public Health Minister Yvette Cooper has told the Commons that some drug companies responded to 1988 reports of BSE by quickly switching to non-UK sources for bovine material for their vaccines.

But after a Code of Open Government request for facts, the Daily Express has been told Wellcome continued using UK bovine material in the manufacturing process for four children's vaccines until 1989 . Smithidine has said it continued to use UK-sourced material for its Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine through to February 1990 .

Drugs makers were asked to stop doing that in March 1989, but in an obscure sentence the Health Department suggests it "would have taken months " to eradicate UK-sourced material from the manufacturing process entirely.

[Web Editor's note: in other words, there was a major cost associated with discarding unused potentially contaminated bovine material and vaccines already made from potentially contaminated material, which the DoH was not prepared to pay]

Wellcome's oral polio doses were also manufactured from UK-sourced bovine material through to 1989 , although the last issue and expiry dates are "not known ". The Medicines Control Agency told the Department of Health that Smithkline's inactivated polio vaccine was also manufactured from UK-sourced bovine material . However, it was said no such vaccine was sold by the firm in the UK.

SmithKline Beecham said: 'As of February 1990, SmithKline Beecham Biologicals, our vaccine business, ceased sourcing bovine material of UK origin, and replaced it with material from BSE-free countries. Any stock that was remaining, AT THE REQUEST OF THE UK AUTHORITIES , continued to be available for sale ."

That means unknown quantities of all six routine child immunisations, including Wellcome's oral polio, were kept in doctors' surgeries and were dispensed right through to expiry, towards the end of 1993 . But the Health Department admits: "We are unable to provide exact dates on which vaccines manufactured before March 1989 were no longer used. At the time in question, vaccines were not purchased centrally, as they are now."

The Lib-Dems' Mr Baker said: "The Department of Health was potentially criminally negligent in not requiring the immediate withdrawal or cessation of use of vaccines from potentially contaminated sources. "It is also beyond belief the Department should not even have monitored those who were injected, and is now trying to sweep the whole thing under the carpet "


29 Apr 00 - CJD - 'I watched my vibrant daughter just waste away' for nine years

By Terri Judd

Independent ... Saturday 29 April 2000


John Williams remembers his daughter Alison as the smiling girl who could "wrap me round her little finger.

"She was marvellous. She always had a smile on her face and we used to tease each other," he said. Yet for nine years he watched her slowly deteriorate , lose the will to live and eventually fall into a fatal coma because of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The first signs of the illness began in 1987 when Alison was 22. She started retreating into herself and losing her confidence. The young woman, who had always been bright and athletic, suddenly gave up her business studies course.

"We put it down to the fact that she was upset about her mother having heart surgery," the 71-year-old retired chief engineer, from Caernarvon, explained. "She lost all confidence. She walked, skied, played badminton and loved sailing but she would not go out and meet people."

Gradually, she retreated to her bedroom, staring out of the window for long periods.

In October of that year, her mother Irene, who has since died, took her to the doctors. They feared thyroid problems and diabetes but tests proved negative. Alison tried attending various training courses but she was even fearful of getting on a bus. By 1992, she was treated for a suspected nervous breakdown.

In August 1994, four months after her mother died, Alison collapsed at work and was treated for acute depression. Mr Williams was forced to watch as his daughter began to waste away, her walking became unsteady and she started to lose her memory. Noise became intolerable to her.

After endless tests, Alison's father was told there was a strong possibility his daughter had CJD but it could not be confirmed until death. "I was shattered. It was absolutely terrible. My son David [aged 34] still can't come to terms with it," Mr Williams said.

By November 1995, she became incontinent, had to be fed and thrashed about in bed. Two months later she went blind and lost control of the muscles in her tongue. In February 1996, she went into a coma and died five days later. She was 30.

The pathologist's report confirmed variant CJD, and Alison became the 14th person to be so diagnosed.

Mr Williams is a founder ofthe CJD support network. Set up in 1995, it aims to offer support to families, promote research, campaign on issues and offer accurate information about the illness.

"My daughter died at the age of 30 - not because of an accident, smoking, taking drugs, or alcohol... but because she ate contaminated beef , a food we always thought was safe."


29 Apr 00 - CJD - Britain may harbour CJD timebomb, says professor

By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor

Independent ... Saturday 29 April 2000


Britain could still be heading for a hidden iceberg of the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (v-CJD) disease, caused by eating BSE-infected beef in the 1980s. The trouble is, nobody knows for sure - and nobody knows how many years it will be before the all-clear can be sounded, if it ever is.

The Government will announce by summer if it will replace steel surgical instruments with disposable ones to minimise the risk of transmission.

Although early results from a study of 3,000 appendixes and tonsils stored at hospitals in Scotland and south-west England have been encouraging, with no "incubating" cases of v-CJD uncovered, health chiefs are still worried because the scale of infection is unknown .

"The estimates of the number who will eventually develop v-CJD ranges from hundreds to several hundred thousand ," said Professor Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, yesterday. "There is no change in that from this study."

Professor John Collinge, who is carrying out a similar study on tonsils, added: "This study could only give us a warning of something imminent brewing - but it is such a small number of samples that a negative doesn't really give us any reassurance at all ." He thinks many more people could die decades from now, because the v-CJD can incubate for up to 30 years. Since 1995, 53 people have died from the incurable disease.

Meanwhile the Department of Health is considering what action to take over surgery. It has already minimised the risk of transmitting v-CJD by blood donation, by removing white blood cells from donated blood and sourcing blood products from outside the UK.


29 Apr 00 - CJD - CJD study shows no sign of epidemic

By David Derbyshire Science Correspondent

Telegraph ... Saturday 29 April 2000


The first major study into the threat posed by the human form of mad cow disease has found no evidence of an impending CJD epidemic.

Tests on tissue from more than 3,000 people revealed no trace of the infectious agent linked to the fatal brain disorder, the Government's chief medical officer said yesterday. But Prof Liam Donaldson said an epidemic was still a possibility . The results came from a study of the first 3,170 of 18,000 tonsils and appendices removed in operations in the mid to late Nineties.

Prof Donaldson said: "The fact that no positives have been found is welcome news, but these early results should not be taken as indicators of an all-clear ." The eventual number of deaths from variant CJD (vCJD) could be anywhere between the hundreds and the hundreds of thousands , he said.

"This is a complex and mysterious disease and the results of today's study throw a little bit more light on it, but it's very much an evolving conundrum ."


29 Apr 00 - CJD - Experts refuse to rule out epidemic

By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent

Telegraph ... Saturday 29 April 2000


While many CJD experts may privately suspect that Britain has been spared a major epidemic, preliminary results from a government study released yesterday offer little in the way of comfort .

Tests of 3,170 tonsils and appendices stored in hospitals found no evidence of variant CJD, the fatal brain disorder linked to eating BSE-infected beef. But because the sample was relatively small, and because so little is known about the disease, a major epidemic in years to come still cannot be ruled out.

The results also highlight the difficulty in trying to predict the spread of disease. Research published earlier this year showed that even if a survey of 20,000 tonsils came out negative, the result could still be consistent with an epidemic affecting between 50 and 45,000 people.

Variant CJD (vCJD) - the prefix "new" was dropped last year - is thought to be caused by a rogue prion protein which concentrates in lymphoid tissue. As the disease takes hold, holes appear in the brain triggering mental and physical degeneration. Until recently, vCJD could be diagnosed with 100 per cent certainty only during a post-mortem examination.

But in 1998 researchers found the rogue prion in an appendix removed from a patient at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth nine months before he died. The following year, Prof John Collinge, of St Mary's Hospital in London, showed that prions could also be detected in tonsils . The discovery paved the way for a government investigation into the scale of the infection in the population.

Prof Les Borysiewicz, from the University of Wales College of Medicine, led a scientific committee that is examining 18,000 tonsils and appendices after routine operations. As the results from the first 3,000 tests were announced yesterday, Prof Borysiewicz stressed the limitations of the study. He said: "The sample size is small and may not reflect the population as a whole. And the methods used to study the tissue material have major limitations."

The patients may have been incubating the disease, even though there were no signs in their tonsils or appendices, he added. Dot Churchill, whose son Stephen, 19, was the first confirmed vCJD victim in 1995, said she was not surprised by the findings: "They are half way through the research and this is quite a small sample. I think it's just too early to make any predictions."

But Mrs Churchill, of Devizes, Wiltshire, whose husband David chairs the Human BSE Foundation, added: "Any research that gives us any answers at all has got to be welcomed." A second study has been commissioned from Prof Collinge which will look at fresh samples of tonsil and appendix. One of the drawbacks of the current study is that the samples have been stored for a long time .


29 Apr 00 - CJD - Nightmare is not over, warns victim's mother

By Michael Smith

Telegraph ... Saturday 29 April 2000


Frances Hall, whose son Peter died of the human form of CJD four years ago, believes the government-backed study needs to broaden its scope before it has any real significance .

Mrs Hall said: "It's such a small sample. It was rather like looking for a needle in a haystack. There's still another 15,000 samples to look at. But even if nothing came up in the 18,000 it doesn't mean that there weren't very many people out there who are going to develop it because it doesn't show up until very late ."

There was also the problem that some of the samples tested went back to the early Eighties. Mrs Hall said: "I think they'll have a clearer picture if they start taking more recent random samples." Peter was 20 and a first-year student at Sunderland University when the CJD variant began to show itself.

His mother said: "He was a lovely young man, gregarious, very bright and always with his mates." Mrs Hall, of Chester-le-Street, Co Durham, first spotted something was wrong shortly before Peter's 20th birthday. She said: "I asked him what present he wanted. He didn't seem very interested, which was very unlike Peter."

Initially, the family doctor suggested he was simply depressed and put him on Prozac. But soon he had to give up his studies and his mother was nursing him 24 hours a day at home. Mrs Hall said: "We went through a nightmare - something so dreadful happening to your family and the realisation that they weren't going to get well and that you're losing. It's very difficult to live with."

Eventually, Peter was moved to the County Hospital in Durham. Mrs Hall said she virtually lived there until he died on Feb 8, 1996. A post-mortem examination confirmed Peter had the human version of CJD. Mrs Hall, who runs the Human BSE Foundation to help victims, wants more done to help doctors treating patients suffering from the human form of CJD.

She said: "We need a centralised care package for CJD cases, with centralised funding . In some areas the treatment is great and in some areas it's not as good as it should be. They need somewhere they can refer to where there's expert help." The foundation was concerned that there was a risk of complacency among the authorities which might be reinforced by the study's negative results.

Mrs Hall said: "The majority of the population think the problem has gone. I don't think they realise we still have victims of this disease. I want people to know there is a problem out there. We still have to be careful."">

29 Apr 00 - CJD - Mass tissue tests spark hope over BSE links

By Nigel Hawkes, Science Editor

Times ... Saturday 29 April 2000


A Study of tissue samples from 3,000 people has supported the view that there will not be an epidemic of the human form of "mad cow" disease.

No sign of the protein believed to be responsible for the human form of BSE was found in 3,170 tonsil and appendix specimens tested. Professor Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, said the result was "welcome news", but added that it could not be taken as an indication of an all-clear .

However a member of a team at City University, London, which has long claimed that the final death toll would be no more than 100, said the findings made the group even more sure that they are right. "Our claims have had lots of criticisms, but we are being proved right," Philip Thomas said.

"The outbreak is now on the decline and will be all over by 2006. Today's additional evidence from tonsils is further, welcome confirmation," Professor Thomas said.

The tests of tonsil and appendix samples held in hospital pathology departments began after it was found that the prion - a microscopic protein particle implicated in variant CJD, the human form of BSE - can be detected in these tissues before symptoms become apparent.

A total of 18,000 samples are to be tested, at two centres, the CJD Surveillance Unit in Edingburgh, and Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Yesterday's results are the first to emerge from the programme.

Les Borysiewicz, of the University of Wales College of Medicine, who chairs the steering group responsible for the tests, said that although no sample had tested positive, there were some important caveats . Professor Borysiewicz said the sample was small and the most sensitive tests could not be used on the archive samples. There was also uncertainty about the incubation period for vCJD, and how soon the prion would be seen.

The samples were collected during operations that took place between 1996 and 1998. Had any positives been seen, the implications would have been alarming: even one positive in 3,000 samples would imply that as many as 20,000 people in the whole population were carrying the vCJD agent.

More sensitive tests are to be used in another study, using fresh material from operations, which may give a clearer picture.

Professor Donaldson said yesterday that it would be "several years " before the final numbers could be more precisely predicted.

But the more extreme numbers bandied about a few years ago, of half a million victims or more , are now considered implausible. There have so far been 53 confirmed deaths from vCJD, plus two others for whom post-mortem examinations are not complete. In addition, there are another 12 people still alive but with the symptoms of vCJD.

Professor Donaldson stuck yesterday to estimates of the final toll ranging from "hundreds to hundreds of thousands ", saying that it was simply too early to say .

But Professor Thomas said: "We think this is quite wrong, and it is becoming strongly misleading. For a long time the information has been pointing in the same direction: a total number of 100 cases, though it could be as low as 75 or as high as 150."


29 Apr 00 - CJD - Tonsils research finds no evidence of CJD epidemic

Sarah Boseley, health correspondent

Guardian ... Saturday 29 April 2000


Tests on more than 3,000 tonsils and appendixes stored after routine operations have left scientists no wiser as to the number of Britons who are infected with new variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease.

The government's chief medical officer, Liam Donaldson, admitted yesterday that although there was no trace of the prion protein - which some think is the infective agent - in any of the preserved tissue examined at hospitals in Edinburgh and Plymouth, no news was not necessarily good news .

"This doesn't take us any further forward on the size of the epidemic," he said in a briefing yesterday. "We have still to rely on the very wide estimates scientists have made."

These have ranged between a few hundred and several hundred thousand infections. So far, 53 people are confirmed to have died from the disease, which has no cure; two are suspected to have died from it but await postmortem examinations; and 12 are ill.

Yesterday's announcement of a negative result in the early stages of the retrospective population study was partly an attempt to dampen speculation about a CJD epidemic. The scientists will eventually examine 18,000 samples removed in routine operations from the late 1980s.

The exercise is something of a stab in the dark . The prion protein was found in late 1998 in the appendix of a man who had developed vCJD. In February last year, Professor John Collinge of St Mary's hospital, Paddington, found the abnormal protein in the tonsils of patients who had died of vCJD.

But scientists have no idea at what stage in the incubation of the disease the abnormal prion protein might show up in lymphatic tissue such as tonsils and appendixes.

Prof Donaldson said: "We do not even know whether any individuals who were found positive would necessarily go on to develop the disease. These research findings are another contribution to increasing our understanding of this complex and mysterious disease."

Les Borysiewicz, professor of medicine at the University of Wales college of medicine and chair of the scientific committee that is reviewing the tissue analysis, pointed out that the sample is relatively small , and of 4,166 specimens only 3,170 were appropriate for analysis.


28 Apr 00 - CJD - CJD study fails to provide answers

By Andrea Babbington

Independent ... Friday 28 April 2000


Scientists are no closer to knowing how many people will die from human mad cow disease, despite the release today of a study aimed at predicting its effects.

No signs of variant CJD were found by Government-funded experts in 3,000 tonsil and appendix specimens removed in operations since the 1980s. However they warned the results should not be seen as an all-clear.

The scientists, based at the CJD surveillance unit in Edinburgh and at Derriford hospital in Plymouth, said these were the first findings from a survey that will eventually examine tissue from around 18,000 samples.

At a news conference at the Department of Health Professor Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer, said: "The fact that no positives have been found is welcome news, but these early results should not be taken as an indication of an 'all clear'.

"The methods of analysis used on the small sample of specimens have some limitations . In addition we do not know at what point in the incubation period tissues such as tonsils or appendices would turn positive, how long the incubation period would be, or even whether any individuals who were found positive would necessarily go on to develop the disease."

Variant CJD emerged in 1995 as a previously unrecognised form of the human brain disease, and to date has claimed 53 confirmed victims in the UK.

Most experts now accept that the variant CJD is a human version of the cattle disease BSE and acquired from eating contaminated beef.

The majority of infections are thought to have occurred in the late 1980s before the introduction of controls to prevent contaminated meat entering the human food chain.


28 Apr 00 - CJD - Keeping the lid on CJD

James Meikle

Guardian ... Friday 28 April 2000


The lack of evidence of nascent traces of the human form of BSE in a survey of tonsil and appendix samples dating back to the 1980s is at best only partly reassuring .

Trawling through a few thousand results of operations undergone by a population of 50m to try and establish the likely threat from what is technically called variant CJD was always going to be a long shot , given that even now only 55 people in Britain are thought to have died from the fatal condition since March 1995, with another 12 likely victims still living.

Specialists in both the clinical disease and statistical prediction of the size of the epidemic disagree wildly about the future. Some believe we still may get away with fewer than 100 cases, although that estimate is looking less likely as the death toll mounts, while others think it still may run into hundreds of thousands of even millions . The problem is that there are still so many unknowns .

There is no conclusive proof yet that the disease came from cattle, although the analysis of the "signature'' of the disease in the brain reveals many similarities with BSE. The likelihood is that it came from eating infected beef, although other sources including vaccines and cosmetics with bovine material are possible.

The scientific establishment believes the behaviour of an abnormal prion protein is a key factor in the disease but just when does it first show itself? The incubation period of the disease may be anything from just over 4 to nearer 40 years.

It was the chance discovery of an abnormal prion in the appendix of a variant CJD victim , removed eight months before he showed the first obvious outward signs of the disease and three years before he died, that provoked the screening programme whose first results were published today. It has also accelerated changes in the use of medical instruments, with more disposable equipment being used in several types of operation and medical treatment.

There have been some important developments recently in being able to diagnose pretty conclusively the existence of the disease before death , through tonsil tests on those already showing outward signs. There is now hope, too, of being able to develop ways of "modulating'' the disease, as happened with HIV and Aids.

However, we are still a long way from developing tests for the condition before clinical signs become evident, or drugs to block it. Even before those arrive, there is a huge debate to be had on the ethics of telling victims of a disease that is incurable.

But the longer deaths from the appalling symptoms - including dementia , aggression and loss of bodily control - remain on a relatively small scale, the more ministers and their advisers are having to balance the cost of prevention. This includes expensive precautions on spreading nvCJD through blood donations and potentially infected food, against the as-yet-unquantified risk of a doomsday-sized epidemic . The government once rubbished anyone who suggested that people might die from eating BSE-infected cattle. Now it is ready to err on the side of caution .


28 Apr 00 - CJD - Sheep to be tested for 'hidden' BSE

James Meikle

Guardian ... Friday 28 April 2000


The government is to increase significantly research into whether sheep are harbouring "hidden " BSE and posing a new food risk to humans.

A programme was announced yesterday to find new tests for live animals, comparisons of sheep BSE with cattle BSE, and ways of determining whether scrapie, a similar disease long endemic in British flocks, is helping to mask a potentially more devastating threat to people's health.

It follows concern among scientific advisers that there are still gaps in knowledge about how BSE and similar conditions may be affecting livestock.

Researchers around the world are being invited to compete for a share of an extra £5m worth of work next year. Since 1986 £90m has already been spent on research into the issue.

As few as one in eight sheep farmers might be obeying the law by reporting suspect cases of scrapie, government vets warned earlier this month, and ministers have announced plans to tag or tattoo 40m sheep in an effort to improve the tracking-down of diseases and the recording of animals' provenance.

Much of the work will involve sheep purchased from New Zealand farms, where there is no scrapie , to act as controls for the experiments. There is no evidence that scrapie is a danger to humans, and BSE has only been transmitted from infected cattle to sheep via the laboratory.

One theory on the cause of BSE is that the remains of scrapie-infected sheep were eaten in the meat and bone meal which used to be commonly fed to cattle and sheep, and the infective agent then began working in a totally different way in cows. Even if that is not the case, it is possible that BSE was spread from the remains of infected cattle to sheep before the 1988 ban on the use of such feed.

Although all sheep fed contaminated materials would probably now have died naturally, scientists see no reason why BSE , if it exists in sheep, should not have become endemic like scrapie. Animals may simply have become carriers of the disease without displaying outward signs. In the laboratory, sheep BSE already appears to behave differently from BSE in cattle.

There is no test for identifying scrapie in live sheep, BSE in live cattle, or, until it is clinically apparent, variant CJD (the human form of BSE) in people while still alive. There are promising signs for a scrapie test using blood that is being developed by the US department of agriculture.

The government believes successive measures introduced to protect humans by banning parts of cattle and sheep from food are sufficient at present, but needs to know more about how both BSE and scrapie work and their minimum infective "doses" .

Baroness Hayman, the agriculture minister, said: "Although our scientific knowledge in this field has increased and evolved significantly, there are still identifiable areas where more work needs to be done."


28 Apr 00 - CJD - Research allays fears of CJD epidemic

Staff and agencies

Guardian ... Friday 28 April 2000


A study aimed at predicting the threat to humans from BSE has found no evidence of the human form of the disease in 3,000 specimens of human tissue, the Department of Health said today. The government's chief medical officer, Professor Liam Donaldson welcomed the news, but warned that the early results should not be taken as an indication of an "all clear". Government-funded experts analysed about 3,000 tonsil and appendix samples routinely taken from people since the 1980s. Preliminary results from the survey, which will eventually examine about 18,000 samples, found no traces of the abnormal prion protein associated with new variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease, which has killed 52 people in the UK.

The brain disease is believed to be acquired from eating BSE-contaminated beef . Sufferers are thought to have become infected in the 1980s before the introduction of controls to prevent contaminated meat from entering the human food chain. BSE was first diagnosed in November 1986 and nv-CJD in 1995.

Some scientists have warned of a CJD epidemic affecting up to a half a million people during the next decade, but because the incubation period of the disease is unknown, it may still be too early to predict how many will succumb to nv-CJD.

Professor Donaldson said: "The fact that no positives have been found is welcome news, but these early results should not be taken as an indication of an 'all clear'. The methods of analysis used on the small sample of specimens have some limitations .

"In addition we do not know at what point in the incubation period tissues such as tonsils or appendices would turn positive, how long the incubation period would be, or even whether any individuals who were found positive would necessarily go on to develop the disease."

Nonetheless, today's results were being seen by experts as the most reliable indication so far of how many people are infected with nv-CJD.

The rogue prion proteins which cause nv-CJD are thought to accumulate in the tonsils and appendix, making them potentially useful for keeping track of the disease.

Experts from the CJD National Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh and Derriford Hospital in Plymouth carried out the study.

The research followed the death from new variant CJD in 1998 of Devon coastguard Tony Barrett. His appendix had been removed in 1995. When scientists re-examined it after his death they found the abnormal prion protein, showing that his condition could have been diagnosed before he fell ill .

Since then the two research centres have been collecting tonsil and appendix samples removed between the mid-1980s and late 1990s.

"The critical gap in our knowledge remains not having a reliable diagnostic test to detect the presence of the abnormal prion protein at the pre-clinical stage of the disease." said Professor Donaldson.

"The government is committed to spending some £26 million over the next year into research into CJD and BSE issues to address these important outstanding issues."

Commenting on today's results, a spokeswoman for the CJD Support Network said: "Obviously this is very welcome news as it may indicate that there are not going to be huge numbers of people with the disease. But we have to remember that this was a small study of only 3,000 samples and we will want to wait and see the outcome of the rest of the study.

"Meanwhile, we will have to go on supporting people and their relatives who are struck down by this devastating disease."

Like the bovine form of the disease (BSE), nv-CJD is a poorly understood condition that attacks the brain, leaving it full of holes like a bath sponge.

Victims display symptoms of dementia , becoming unsteady and confused and losing their memory . As the brain degenerates, they decline to a state where they cannot walk , talk or look after themselves . There is no known cure.


28 Apr 00 - CJD - Research to reveal size of CJD threat

By Andrea Babbington

Independent ... Friday 28 April 2000


The size of the threat posed by human mad cow disease will be revealed today as scientists release research that will give the best indication yet.

About 2,000 tonsil and appendix samples routinely taken from people since the 1980s have been analysed by government-funded experts.

The results are likely to provide the first reliable estimates of how many people are infected with new variant CJD.

The results of the study, which has been carried out by experts from the CJD National Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh and Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, have been shrouded in secrecy.

The research followed the death from new variant CJD in 1998 of Devon coastguard Tony Barrett.

His appendix had been removed three years earlier. When scientists re-examined it after his death they found the abnormal prion protein, showing that his condition could have been diagnosed before he fell ill.

Since then the two research centres have been collecting tonsil and appendix samples removed between the mid-1980s and late 1990s.

The brain disease first emerged in 1995 but it is believed that many victims probably become infected in the 1980s before the introduction of controls to prevent contaminated beef from entering the human food chain.

To date nvCJD is known to have claimed 52 victims in the UK, but whether or not many more people will succumb depends on the length of its incubation period.

The longer the incubation period, the larger the number of people likely to be infected with nvCJD but not yet showing any symptoms.

The rogue prion proteins which cause nvCJD are thought to accumulate in the tonsils and appendix, making them potentially useful for keeping track of the disease.


22 Apr 00 - CJD - BSE cases grow as French farmers use banned feed

By John Lichfield in Paris

Independent ... Saturday 22 April 2000


The growing French epidemic of BSE can be traced directly to farmers fattening their cattle with potentially contaminated feed that was officially banned in 1991, according to official investigations.

Paris justified its flouting of European Union rules to maintain the ban on British beef last month by arguing that it had a duty to take "extreme precautions" to protect human health. But there is now mounting evidence that the French government's own measures against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) are inadequate and loosely enforced .

Inquiries by French government vets have shown a "probable or possible" connection between all recent cases of the disease in France and the use of compound animal feed containing the ground-up remains of cattle . Officially, the findings are secret but they have been leaked to the newspaper Le Figaro and confirmed to The Independent by a source in the French food safety agency, the AFSSA.

Such feed, blamed for the vastly greater BSE epidemic in Britain, has been banned as cattle fodder in both countries since 1991. It has been banned from animal feed of all kinds in Britain since 1996, when it was realised that cattle were still being fed on contaminated feedstuffs destined for pigs and poultry. Yet it remains legally available in France to feed pigs and poultry. Officials believe that its accidental or deliberate use for cattle explains why the incidence of BSE in France is almost doubling annually .

The numbers must be kept in perspective. Contrary to claims by the Conservative Party, there is no "mass" epidemic of BSE across the Channel and there is no credible evidence that some cases are being "hidden". There have been just over 100 BSE cases in France in eight years, compared with a monumental 180,000 cases in Britain .

The fact remains, however, that the number of cases in the United Kingdom is falling rapidly while the disease is "inexplicably" gaining ground in France, where there have been 14 cases already this year, compared with 30 last year and 18 the year before.

Last week, the French Agriculture Minister, Jean Glavany, speculated that the advance of the disease might be connected to some unknown "third" method of infection. The only scientifically proved means of transmission are through tainted feed and, in rare cases, through inheritance .

However, the leaked findings show that the French government is aware of the likely real cause of the spread of BSE. Each outbreak has been investigated exhaustively by the Ministry of Agriculture's vets. The average period of incubation of BSE is five years; records of food supplied to animals, or available on the farm, have been examined for seven years before the outbreak.

The results of these inquiries have been kept secret. However, the leak to Le Figaro has revealed that every single case of BSE in France can be linked to a "probable or possible" wrongful , or "cross-over" , use of animal feed officially restricted to poultry and pigs.

An official at the AFSSA said it was clear that some farmers had "only in the last few months truly understood the danger" of using cheaper feeds. The Confédération Paysanne farmers' union makes an even more serious accusation. It accuses French compound feed manufacturers of either deliberately or carelessly flouting the law and continuing to mix cattle remains in cattle feed . The union said this week that Mr Glavany's suggestion of a "third way" of catching BSE was intended to "divert public attention from the imprudent , or even fraudulent , practices of certain large manufacturers".

Officials at the French Ministry of Agriculture reject such claims. They say that there is no evidence of systematic flouting of the law by feed manufacturers. If this was so, they say, there would be a much greater BSE epidemic in France.


21 Apr 00 - CJD - By Melissa Kite, Political Reporter

Tories seek French beef ban over BSE

Times ... Friday 21 April 2000


The Conservatives have called for a Europe-wide ban on French beef after reports of its worsening BSE epidemic . French officials have admitted that planned elimination of the disease by 2001 is unlikely and that the problem will still exist in 2010.

Tim Yeo, the Shadow Agriculture Minister, said the truth was at last being dragged out of a reluctant French Government. "Britain should now ask the European Commission to review France's BSE risk status and impose a precautionary ban on the import of French cattle products until their safety can be guaranteed," he said.

Mr Yeo said that a failure to push for a ban would expose the eagerness of Nick Brown, the Agriculture Minister, to protect French farmers while putting the British consumer at risk.

The Ministry of Agriculture dismissed Mr Yeo's call for a ban, saying that Britain could not act unilaterally to stop imports of French beef.

France had an estimated 31 cases of BSE last year and 14 so far this year. Jean Glavany, the French Agriculture Minister, suggested that the increase was caused by cattle feed contaminated by offal destined for pigs and chickens.


21 Apr 00 - CJD - Food firms urge inquiry into French BSE cases

By David Brown and Robert Shrimsley

Telegraph ... Friday 21 April 2000


Food manufacturers called last night for a European Union investigation into the rising number of BSE cases in France as pressure mounted in Britain for a ban on French beef and beef products.

The Food and Drink Federation, representing Britain's £63 billion-a-year food manufacturing industry, said: "We are calling for a scientific review and assessment of the BSE situation in France to be carried out at EU level."

The move followed demands from the Conservative Party for an immediate ban on French beef, gelatin, tallow and any other related products. The Tory demands, which exposed a deep split of opinion among militant and moderate farmers' leaders in Britain, came as the French Food Standards Agency admitted that there was little prospect of meeting the 2001 target date for the elimination of BSE from French herds.

Jean Glavany, the French agriculture minister, said the problems were caused by contaminated offal destined for pigs and chickens. But he also blamed another mysterious source of infection. Tim Yeo, the shadow agriculture minister, said British consumers needed protection from French beef in the same way the French had demanded the banning of British produce.

He said: "At last the truth about BSE is being dragged out of a reluctant French government. This is not the first, nor will it be the last, report to admit that BSE is much more widespread in France and, in contrast to Britain, the number of cases is still rising.

"Britain should now ask the European Commission to review France's BSE risk status and impose a precautionary ban on the import of French cattle products, until their safety can be guaranteed. Any failure to do so will expose the eagerness of Nick Brown, Minister of Agriculture, to protect French farmers , while putting the British consumer at risk. Mr Brown must not be deflected by unsupported claims from the French minister that there may be a 'mysterious way' of spreading BSE."

But the Ministry of Agriculture dismissed the call for a ban, saying that Britain could not "act unilaterally". It said: "We have the commission taking action against the French [for refusing to lift their domestic ban on British beef]. They have currently gone to the European Court of Justice."

France reported 31 outbreaks of BSE in 1999 and has recorded 14 in the first four months of this year. In addition to beef exports, France is now Britain's largest single supplier of cattle gelatin which is an ingredient in a wide range of food products including children's sweets. It is also used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.


21 Apr 00 - CJD - BSE 'to die out in seven years'

James Meikle and Paul Webster in Paris

Guardian ... Friday 21 April 2000


the BSE epidemic in Britain is expected to die out by the year 2007, according to an independent assessment of the spread of the disease by Swiss scientists.

Their predictions support the government's assertion of a steadily decreasing trend, assuming that a ban on feeding the most risky parts of cattle or sheep back to cows is being rigorously observed.

Researchers at the Institute of Animal Neurology at Bern University and the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office suggest there may only be isolated cases of BSE after 2007, 21 years after the disease was first identified and possibly more than three decades after it began on an unnoticed small scale.

The estimates do not take into account the unproven theory that cows may have given the disease to their calves but the unpublished work, reported by the EU's scientific steering committee, offers a real prospect of Britain emerging from the crisis. Hundreds of suspect BSE cases are still being slaughtered - 2,250 cases were confirmed in Britain last year. The total of confirmed BSE deaths among cattle - 176,600 - dwarfs other countries, including Ireland at 466 , Portugal 371 and Switzerland 356 .

EU scientists have accepted that Britain was entitled to lift its beef-on-the-bone ban but are likely to insist many anti-BSE controls remain in place . They and the commissioner responsible for BSE, David Byrne, want more countries, even those currently without BSE, to adopt similar measures because of the risks to consumers through imported food. In Britain 55 people have died from the human form of BSE, variant CJD, and another 12 are thought to be fatally ill.

Meanwhile in France, where entire herds are slaughtered if BSE is found, there is mounting concern over the possible length of the BSE problems, which started in 1991. The recently established food safety agency, which provided the information which convinced Paris to maintain its ban on British beef exports, believes the disease will not be eradicated in France before 2010.

One person has died from variant CJD and there are two other suspect cases. So far 94 cattle have been confirmed as BSE-related deaths.

Although the feeding of cattle with bone waste has been banned in France for six years, feed can still be given to pigs and poultry, raising the possibility of careless handling as a source of infection. But the agriculture minister, Jean Glavany, says a third way other than feed and cow to calf transmission may be the cause. So far, scientists have ruled out this possibility and health inspectors are concentrating on possible malpractice over feed.


21 Apr 00 - CJD - Tories call for French beef ban over BSE

By Sarah Schaefer

Independent ... Friday 21 April 2000


Tories demanded an immediate ban on imports of French beef yesterday as they seized on reports that BSE cases in the country are increasing .

Tim Yeo, the shadow Agriculture Minister, said the French government had admitted that the BSE problem was much worse than previously expected.

"At last the truth about BSE is being dragged out of a reluctant French government," he said. "This is not the first, nor will it be the last report to admit that BSE is much more widespread in France.

"Britain should now ask the European Commission to review France's BSE risk status and impose a precautionary ban on the import of French cattle products, until their safety can be guaranteed."

However, a spokesman for the Ministry for Agriculture stressed that Britain could not "act unilaterally" to ban imports of French beef.

"We have the Commission taking action against the French (for refusing to lift their domestic ban on British beef). They have currently gone to the European Court of Justice."

France had 31 cases of BSE last year and 14 so far this year, according to reports. The French food standards agency admitted the planned elimination of BSE from French herds by 2001 was unlikely to happen.


19 Apr 00 - CJD - Farmers Ignore Law By Failing To Report Scrapie

James Meikle

Guardian ... Wednesday 19 April 2000


Farmers are hampering attempts to check whether BSE has spread from cows to sheep by failing to report a similar disease in their flocks, a report by government vets suggests.

They conclude only about one in eight sheep farmers who suspect their livestock is suffering from scrapie is obeying the law by telling the authorities, raising concerns over the effectiveness of efforts to control the disease.

The vets, who surveyed more than 7,000 sheep farmers, also found that many who did not think any of their animals had experienced scrapie did not know the clinical signs of the disease - which include rubbing up against posts because of skin irritation, nervous and aggressive behaviour and an unsteady gait.

The investigation was demanded by scientific advisers on BSE and its fatal human equivalent, variant CJD, which is probably caused by eating infected beef. They want more checks on brains of slaughtered sheep to see whether they have BSE too, and improvements to scrapie surveillance.

BSE has never been proved to exist in sheep outside the laboratory, while scrapie has been endemic for more than 250 years and never linked to human disease.

But some scientists believe scrapie may have caused BSE through recycling of infected sheep in animal feed. The diseases are hard to distinguish and if BSE were found , the only method of control would be culling affected animals and their lambs.

There would be disastrous economic implications . Even with scrapie, the vets say "many farmers may be reluctant to report cases owing to the possible loss of markets, both national and international, and the potential loss of livelihood".

As with BSE and CJD, there is no test for live animals and the government is belatedly to introduce the compulsory tagging of sheep to improve checks on their provenance.

Failure to report scrapie can attract unlimited fines - although its true extent is difficult to establish. Last year there were 593 confirmed cases compared with 328 in 1993, 508 in 1997 and 499 in 1998.

That is a small proportion of the 40m sheep and lambs, and far fewer than the 2,250 BSE cases in cattle confirmed last year, but the disease is most likely to be a problem in the 20m breeding flock where the animals are older than most sold for slaughter.

Peter Smith, acting chairman of the spongiform encephalopathy advisory committee on BSE-like diseases, said: "We have always been aware scrapie was likely to be quite substantially under-reported .

"I don't think this came as a great shock to us. We are looking at ways to eradicate it from Britain and we would feel a lot more comfortable if it was not around."

The vets, from the government's veterinary laboratory agency and the institute of animal health in Compton, Berkshire, analysed responses to a questionnaire sent to farmers with flocks with more than 30 breeding ewes. Nearly 15% thought they had experienced scrapie and 2.7% thought they had had it in the past year.

A comparison with the number of farmers who reported suspect cases to the Ministry of Agriculture suggested only 13% of those with suspect cases were doing so .

The findings, published in the Veterinary Record, said flocks in Yorkshire, Humberside and the Shetland Islands appeared to be most at risk. These are areas involved in anti-scrapie measures, including attempts to breed resistant stock .

Officials believe the rise in scrapie cases recorded in recent years may be due to improved reporting. But the ministry said yesterday: "The reporting rate is unacceptably low."

In 1998, it introduced compensation for farmers whose suspect animals were destroyed, and it was issuing publicity material to increase awareness of the disease


19 Apr 00 - CJD - Panic over 'third way' of mad cow infection

By Harry de Quetteville in Paris

Telegraph ... Wednesday 19 April 2000


French beef farmers are panicking after hints from Jean Glavany, the Agriculture Minister, that mad cow disease (BSE) may be transmitted in a "mysterious third way" about which nothing is known .

Despite measures introduced to combat the spread of the disease through contaminated animal feed and from mother to calf, cases of BSE continue to rise in France. In 1998 there were 18 ; last year there were 30 ; and there have already been 14 this year. Many more are suspected to go unreported .

On Saturday, M Glavany suggested that the failure to eradicate the disease in France could be due to a "mysterious third way of infection about which scientists know nothing as yet". Farming and consumer groups have reacted with suspicion to the comments, claiming that M Glavany knows more than he is letting on.

Marie-Josée Nicoli from the Federal Consumers' Union said: "M Glavany must explain what this third way is. Either the comments were thoughtless, or he knows something and is preparing the public." Though a strict ban on bonemeal in cattle feed was introduced in France in 1996 , BSE's long incubation period means that cattle infected through feed could continue to emerge until 2001 .

But fears are growing that infection will continue beyond that date. M Glavany said: "What happens after 2001 will be without doubt very important. If infection continues, scientists will have to try to understand why." Some farming groups suggest that the answer is no mystery at all, however, and accuse cattle feed producers of flouting the 1996 regulations .

The Smallholders' Confederation said: "This debate has nothing to do with transparent and truthful research into the origin of the epidemic and everything to do with distracting public attention from the reckless , even fraudulent , behaviour of some animal feed producers ."

On Sunday Hubert Védrine, the Foreign Minister, confirmed that the new hypothesis would lessen the chances of the embargo on British beef being lifted.


18 Apr 00 - CJD - Untagged flocks will cost farmers

James Meikle

Guardian ... Tuesday 18 April 2000


Farmers will face fines of up to £5,000 if they fail to tag or tattoo their sheep and goats before they sell them for slaughter or to other breeding flocks, the government said yesterday.

Rules are to be introduced by the end of the year to avert the threat of an EU ban on Britain's £226m export trade in sheep meat and live animals.

The Ministry of Agriculture said the new tracing system for up to 40m sheep and 77,000 goats would also have benefits for the control of diseases, including BSE should it ever be found to have transferred from cattle to sheep.

Officials said they were keeping the extra burden to hard-pressed farmers to a minimum, with the cost of tags put at £12m the first year and £6m annually after that. In a consultation document, they made no attempt to quantify additional labour costs on Britain's 80,000 sheep farms but the system will not be as detailed or complicated as that already required for 11m cattle following the BSE fiasco .

Tags will cost an average 55p a sheep but with lambs selling at market for an average £45, the additional costs will have less impact than might have been feared in recent years.

Tagging should have been introduced under EU rules in 1995 but it was only at end of last year that Brussels warned of possible legal action against Britain.

The government believes the tagging will increase consumer confidence and allow closer checks on EU subsidies to sheep farmers worth up to £400m a year. It will be policed by local authorities, meat hygiene inspectors and vets.

Carol Lloyd, a National Farmers' Union spokeswoman, said: "We have to meet the terms of the EU directive or we face problems with our potential export market."

Opponents of live sheep exports who have been complaining that Britain was breaking the law which required animals to be traced back to the farm of their birth, welcomed the move. "It is clearly unacceptable to have a trade in breach of EU law on identification," said Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming.

• Liberal Democrats yesterday challenged a recent Cabinet Office report that the countryside was "prosperous, contented and reasonably well served". The Lib Dems said only five of 73 education action zones were in rural areas, half of all rural parishes had no primary school, 75% of small parishes had no daily bus services, air pollution levels and ambulance response times were worse. They added long-term unemployment was rising and there had been little attention towards tackling racism.


18 Apr 00 - CJD - Beef to be labelled by country of origin

By a Correspondent

Times ... Tuesday 18 April 2000


New EU beef labelling rules designed to restore consumer confidence in the health and safety of food were welcomed by the Government last night.

Agriculture ministers meeting in Luxembourg agreed that all beef sold in the member states will have to be labelled by country of origin . The proposals, which also include labelling information tracing meat back to the birth of the animal, will be introduced in two stages by 2002.

Joyce Quin, the Agriculture Minister, said after the meeting: "We welcome this because we are confident that we have put in place beef monitoring measures that are the safest in the EU. We have absolutely no hesitation in advertising our beef as British."

All English sheep and goats will have to be tattooed or earmarked before being moved from the farm on which they were born, under Ministry of Agriculture plans to control the spread of disease and provide information on the origin of animals being exported.


17 Apr 00 - CJD - French stand by beef ban after warning

Staff Reporter

Telegraph ... Monday 17 April 2000


France is less likely to lift its ban on British beef following suggestions that mad cow disease may be caused by a mystery factor , the foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, said yesterday.

Jean Glavany, France's agriculture minister, said on Saturday that BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, may be passed in a mysterious third way , apart from infected foodstuffs and cow-to-calf transmission. "It is more than ever important to be vigilant , and even more out of the question that France should change its position," M Vedrine told Europe 1 radio


09 Apr 00 - CJD - Scientists fear thousands (400,000+) may have CJD

Jonathan Leake Science Editor

Sunday Times ... Sunday 9 April 2000


Scientists have moved one step closer to confirming that thousands of Britons could be infected with variant CJD, the human form of "mad cow" disease (BSE).

A government-funded study of appendix and tonsil tissues taken from 2,000 people since the 1980s is understood to have found a small number of samples which tested positive for the infective prion particles that cause the disease. If confirmed, the results suggest the number of people who might get the disease could reach thousands.

The researchers are, however, thought to be worried about the accuracy of the tests and are to carry out checks be-fore announcing them to a government committee next month.

Details of the work were discussed last week when researchers into CJD, BSE and other prion diseases held a private meeting at Keele University .

The event, organised by the agriculture and health ministries and by the government's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, was conducted amid unprecedented security . It was not announced to the press and every scientist attending had to pledge not to reveal anything.

The study was ordered to try to find out how many people were at risk of contracting variant CJD. Half of it is being carried out by Professor James Ironside at the CJD national surveillance unit in Edinburgh, and the other half is being done at Derriford hospital in Plymouth by Dr David Hilton.

Both men attended last week's meeting and are understood to have held discussions with other scientists on the nature of their results.

The research followed the death of Tony Barrett, a Devon coastguard, who died of variant CJD in 1998. His appendix had been removed in 1995. When it was re-examined after his death scientists found abnormal prion protein - showing that his illness could have been diagnosed before he became ill.

Since then the two research centres have been collecting tonsil and appendix samples re-moved between the mid-1980s and late 1990s - the period when exposure to BSE-contaminated meat was at its peak.

If the tests do find any positive cases of variant CJD then the implications would be serious. Extrapolating the result to the population as a whole suggests that for each positive result picked up by the study, 30,000 people in the population would get the disease .

So far there have been more than 50 deaths from variant CJD with at least a dozen more people currently dying from the disease. Among them is a woman who gave birth just before she was diagnosed and whose child is now suspected of being the first case in which the disease has passed from mother to child .

UK Correspondents Note : It seems there have been approximately 8 positive results in 2000 tests. Kenneth Calman, the previous Chief Medical Officer is on record as saying 1 positive result per thousand tests equated to 50,000 cases countrywide. On this basis it would seem the lower limit of the forthcoming nvCJD epidemic is in the region of 400,000 deaths .

This number of potential fatalities explains why the US is anticipating a ban on US visitors to the UK for a considerable period (take the FDA link from the left side bar to the proceedings of the FDA meeting that initiated the ban on US blood donors who spent 6 months cumulatively in the UK between 1980 & 1996, scroll down and click on "Det Norsk Veritas Risk Assessment" by Philip Comer, then search - CTRL + F - for "travel").


31 Mar 00 - CJD - Farmers in France sue feed firms over BSE

By Patrick Bishop in Paris

Telegraph ... Friday 31 March 2000


Dismayed by the failure of attempts to eradicate BSE from their herds, French farmers are going to law to discover why preventive measures are not working.

Unions in the Ain department in eastern France have launched several law suits against cattle feed producers they suspect of being responsible for continuing to infect their livestock. The actions do not name the defendants whom they accuse of "deception , falsification , and the transmission of an animal epidemic".

Though French farmers are paid between £300 and £7,000 for the slaughter of an animal, they are keen to discover why their cows are still showing any trace of the disease, 10 years after suspect animal feeds were banned.

In February, a European Commission report found that 4.2 per cent of French animal feed still contained traces of bone meal . BSE continues to be discovered in French cattle at the rate of one case a week . Two thirds of its 92 confirmed cases have emerged since a 1990 ban on bone meal in cattle feed.

Critics say the figures could be explained either by a wide-scale flouting of the ban or a serious miscalculation of the numbers infected before it came into force. Last month, 670 cattle in the Ain were slaughtered after a cow born after the ban was found to have BSE.

Although the scale of BSE in France is tiny compared with Britain, where 176,526 cases have been detected, its persistence poses a challenge to official claims of high standards of health safety vigilance.

Germany issued a formal order to end its four-year ban on British beef yesterday, leaving France as the only EU country with an import embargo still in place. British beef could be imported into Germany within days if it bears a label "denoting its origin".