4 September 1998

nvCJD mass screenings

MASS screening to determine the extent of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD), the human brain condition linked to BSE, is likely after doctors discovered evidence of the disease in the appendix of a man who later died of nvCJD.

The man, from Torbay, Devon, showed no clinical signs of the disease at the time his appendix was removed. He died three years later. Recent examination of his appendix showed evidence of the prion protein, believed to cause infection, leading to government hopes that the exposure of the population to BSE can now be tracked through examination of thousands of appendixes and tonsils routinely stored in hospital laboratories after their removal.

"This new finding provides us with an opportunity which it is only sensible to explore," said the governments chief medical officer Sir Kenneth Calman. &#42