THE number of deaths in Britain from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) fell by one-third last year.
These figures raise hopes that the impact of vCJD, the human form of BSE, on the population will be relatively mild.
Official figures released yesterday report that 11 people died in 1999 from vCJD, compared with 17 reported in 1998.
But researchers are differing in how they view this decline.
Academics at City University in London are predicting that fewer than 100 people will be affected, and not more than 150.
The Wellcome Trust for the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases in Oxford say there could still be an epidemic if the incubation period of the disease is lengthy.