14 July 2000
Experts investigate CJD outbreak

By FWi staff

A CLUSTER of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease cases in Leicestershire could provide clues in the search for the cause of the human form of mad cow disease.

Three victims of new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease who died in 1998 either lived in the village of Queniborough or visited there regularly, it emerged.

A fourth person from the county died from CJD this May, while a fifth has been referred to the Edinburgh-based CJD unit as a “highly probable” case.

This prompted statisticians to advise the CJD unit, which monitors the disease, that the cluster of Leicestershire cases is unlikely to be a coincidence.

Experts have linked up with the local health authority to investigate possible links in a team led by Philip Monk, a consultant in communicable diseases.

Mr Monk is currently interviewing friends and relatives of the Queniborough victims. He said: “This is a real opportunity to find common factors.”

It is not the first time a CJD cluster has been identified and investigated. The CJD unit investigated a cluster of six cases linked to Ashford in Kent in 1997.