Eurodopers : What Is vCJD?

This BBC article–

–is cryptic to me.

I don’t know what the abbreviation vCJD means.
Perhaps it isn’t in common usage on this side of the Big Pond.

What does this mean, Eurodopers?

Any background info is appreciated. :slight_smile:

Variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease. AKA mad cow disease.

It just stands for “new Variant CJD” - apparently it’s a new form of the regular CJD. IIRC vCJD is actually the one that effects humans, the ordinary CJD doesn’t - but I could be off.

Where’s my father when you need him ?

vCJD= variant Creutzfeld Jacob Disease

This is what they call BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis) when it infects a human, leaving all arguments by side about whether or not it really does go from cows to humans.

BSE is also known as Mad Cow Disease.

I was going to see what your link had to say about vCJD, but it won’t open for me.

To clarify:
Creutzfeld Jacob Disease is a sickness that humans have been getting for quite some time. It was around before BSE. The effects of CJD are similar to the effects of BSE.

vCJD is supposedly a new form of CJD that is supposedly caused by BSE crossing over from cows to humans.

The evidence for the cross-over is (from what I’ve read) relatively shaky. Given the way it affects humans, though, I can well understand the panic at the thought that it might crossover.

Some of you X-Files fans may remember an episode where there was an organization of cannibals in some small town that was headed by a guy who’d been in some place while he was in the US Army where the locals (New Guinea or somewhere like that) engaged in ritual cannibalism. He became a cannibal then and continued the practice when he returned home. He also got bunches of people in his hometown into it, and besides that he ran a chicken packing plant. Sculley got into things because so many people in town were dying of some strange disease. What they were dying of was Creutzfeld Jacob Disease. There seem to be only two ways to get CJD - it shows up spontaneously by itself, or else you eat something containing infected nervous tissue from another human. The second way was the problem in the X-Files. Too many cannibals eating people who had CJD and spreading the infection around.


The BBC finally got it in gear.

Yeah. The only known way to transfer CJD or vCJD is by taking in to the body something from an infected person.

The business with BSE has the doctors keeping closer watch on CJD and vCJD, so they are noticing transfers that would have gone unnoticed in earlier years.

Ah yes–“Chaco Chicken: Good People, Good Food.” :smiley:

I don’t have anything else to add here other than that a secretary at my dad’s former company died of CJD, and it is a nasty, nasty way to die.

This was very, very helpful. Thank you. :slight_smile:

This was, perhaps, rather less helpful. :frowning:

Ah. That was the line I couldn’t remember. I saw the episode just once, and that line flashed by on the side of a building somewhere. I couldn’t think of the words, just the gist of it.

Even more helpful with my (bolded) insertion:

“Variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease. **The human version of BSE … ** AKA mad cow disease.”

vCJD is also the reason why many Americans are no longer allowed to donate blood: about three years ago the FDA decided that anyone who has spent more than 6 months (cumulatively) in the UK between the years 1980 and 1996 is no longer eligible to be a blood donor, because of the fear of vCJD. There are a few other related restrictions, too: here is a link to an American Red Cross article/FAQ on the subject.

I lived in England from 1983-1985, so I’m not allowed to donate blood anymore. Neither are my parents, and neither is my brother – who used to donate blood whenever he could. I alternate between understanding the FDA’s caution, and thinking it’s overkill. {shrug}

“Chaco Chicken: Good people. Good food.”

I didn’t see the episode. Is that supposed to be a reference to the alleged dining practices at Chaco Canyon?

Absolutely, according to the TV Tome entry for the episode.

I’ve been renting the X-Files: Season 2 from Netflix, and I watched the bonus material last night: they gave as many characters as possible in the Our Town episode names of real-life cannibals.

Funnily enough, the very next episode (also the last ep. of the season) is called Anasazi (Part 1) – though there is no mention of cannibalism.

The latest issue of Private Eye contains some interesting statistics on vCJD and Mad Cow Disease; I shall take the liberty of quoting (within the limits of fair use, natch) from their article here:-

I’m all for sensible caution, but figures like that do suggest the threat from vCJD has been over-estimated somewhat.

Fair-use perhaps, but hardly a fair paraphrase of even the Private Eye article. The preceding sentence is:

The implication is that Patteson (the “then head of SEAC”) made his prediction in 1996 - in other words, nearly a decade ago.
Now one of the (admirable) features of the BSE debate amongst the official advisors to the British government has been that they’ve been open about the uncertainties in the estimates of potential deaths. And anybody who has followed the debate will be aware that those uncertainties have collapsed in the last few years as more has become established about the statistics of vCJD. Not least, admittedly, as more has been established about the observable incidence of the disease in the exposed population. In other words, a decade ago the scientists were only prepared to predict a massively wide range of potential deaths. In the ensuing years, as more information has become available, those predictions have narrowed to (mercifully) the lower end of the original estimates.
So, yes, the threat can strictly be said to have been “over-estimated”, but only on the basis of the information available at the time.

Futhermore, Steve omits the broader picture that the whole article is expressing the point he quotes as part of explicitly arguing against a vCJD-BSE link, in keeping with Private Eye’s established contrarian position on the subject. A position that runs against the entire scientific debate on the subject to date.
Private Eye is very funny, worth reading and worth supporting, but it’s not a professional journal in this area.