Education And Debate

The jury is still out

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 25 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1416
  1. Paul Brown, medical director (US Public Health Service)a
  1. aLaboratory of Central Nervous Studies, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

    Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has now been identified in four farmers and two adolescents in Britain, where its bovine spongiform counterpart has been epidemic for the past several years. Is there a connection? This question is being discussed by many different groups according to pre-existing biases and professional goals, as might be expected for so controversial and potentially explosive a topic. The media has in the main sounded alarm bells because its goal is to produce an exciting story; the government has taken a low key, cautious approach because its goal is to prevent unwarranted panic; and medical science has been somewhat unpredictably divided in its evaluation, depending at least in part on individuals' distaste or flair for publicity.

    In fact, no one can …

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