Death toll from Mad Cow Disease may grow much higher - minister

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Agriculture Minister Nick Brown acknowledged today that the death toll from the human form of mad cow disease could eventually become "much, much larger".

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown acknowledged today that the death toll from the human form of mad cow disease could eventually become "much, much larger".

Facing speculation that the death rate could rise to one a day, Mr Brown said the number of people who would eventually be affected could not be estimated.

"The reason we don't know is because we don't know the incubation period in humans of the prion agent."

But, appearing on the BBC's Breakfast With Frost, Mr Brown added: "When we took the decision to enhance the care package for the victims of variant CJD - the human BSE - and to put compensation arrangements in place as well, we were very mindful of the fact that the numbers to who this applies could be much, much larger."

The warning comes after the death of 14-year-old Zoe Jeffries after two years of suffering from vCJD.

It was also revealed yesterday that a 74-year-old man died of vCJD raising that there could be many more incidents of the disease among the older population.

Mr Brown said he still considered beef safe: "I eat British beef, I know British beef is amongst the safest in the world."

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