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Eurosurveillance, Volume 7, Issue 2, 09 January 2003

Citation style for this article: Molesworth AM. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United Kingdom in 2002. Euro Surveill. 2003;7(2):pii=2146. Available online:

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United Kingdom in 2002

Anna Molesworth (, Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, London, England.

The end of 2002 has seen a total of 129 definitive or probable cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) reported in the United Kingdom (UK) (1). Elsewhere numbers remain small, with 8 cases in Europe (6 in France, 1 in Italy, and 1 in the Republic of Ireland) and a further 2 cases in North America (Canada and the USA).

The latest figures show that in the UK last year 17 people died from vCJD, 3 less than the previous year (see figure). A further 8 cases are still alive. It is, however, too early to conclude the epidemic is waning. To date, all affected people have been methionine homozygotes at codon 129 of the prion protein gene but other genotypes may also be susceptible.

Figure: Deaths of definite and probable vCJD in the UK (data to 6 January 2003)

There is currently no effective treatment for vCJD, which is believed to be caused by exposure to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent, most plausibly through eating BSE contaminated meat or meat products.


References :
  1. Department of Health. Monthly Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease statistics. Monday 6 January 2003.  (

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