Health: New variant CJD claims 21 lives

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The Independent Online
Twenty-one people have died of the "new variant" form of the brain- wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (v-CJD) caused by BSE, according to figures released by the Department of Health yesterday. Another person is still alive with the fatal, incurable illness.

So far, eight Britons have died of the disease, compared to 10 in total last year, and three in 1995. But the course of the disease, which can take more than a decade to show symptoms after the victim is infected, means that it is still too early to use this data to determine whether any full-scale epidemic of v-CJD among the UK population is on the way. Scientists last month demonstrated that the time between infection and symptoms depends strongly on genetic makeup.

Because of time lags caused by the collection and confirmation of disease details, the figures do not include Chris Warne, of Ripley, Derbyshire, who was thought to have died of v-CJD last month.

- Charles Arthur, Science Editor