23 November 1999
Girl, 13, may be youngest BSE victim

SCIENTISTS are carrying out further tests to confirm that a girl of 13 is the youngest person to have contracted the human form of BSE.

So far the youngest of 48 people to have died from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (nvCJD) was 16.

The girl was under a year old when the cattle disease was formally identified in 1986. Parts of cows that might be infective were banned from the human food chain in 1989.

Confirmation that she had the disease would raise further questions about the infective dose of the BSE agent, the length of incubation in humans and the rigour of hygiene controls before March 1996.

This was when the then Conservative government finally conceded a causal link between the disease in humans and eating beef.