Education And Debate

Who gets Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 25 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1419
  1. R M Ridley, head of teama,
  2. H F Baker, senior scientific officera
  1. aMRC Comparative Cognition Team, Department of Experimental Psychology, School of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge CB3 0ES

    Whenever an unusual case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is reported in Britain someone asks: “Is this the beginning of the end--are we all going to die of BSE?” It is a commonly held view that the incubation period for spongiform encephalopathy in humans is at least one to two decades. This is a misconception. For kuru, when the dose of infectivity by the oral route was high the minimum incubation period was less than four years and the median ranged from less than five years to nine years (judged by the minimum ages at onset at the height of the epidemic).1However, the incubation period can be as long as 30 years (judged by the ages of the most recent cases).2

    While experimental transmission …

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