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Eurosurveillance, Volume 8, Issue 46, 11 November 2004

Citation style for this article: Probable case of indigenous vCJD diagnosed in Ireland. Euro Surveill. 2004;8(46):pii=2582. Available online:

Probable case of indigenous vCJD diagnosed in Ireland

Editorial team (, Eurosurveillance Editorial Office

A patient in Ireland has recently been diagnosed with probable variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) [1].

Results of tests on the young male patient, which included tests on a tonsillar biopsy, have confirmed that this is a probable case of vCJD. The hospital has stated that the patient never received a blood transfusion or made a blood donation, and that the cause of infection is not linked to an operation. The current patient has not lived abroad, and this is therefore Ireland’s first ‘indigenous’ case [2].

There has been one other vCJD case in Ireland in the past. However, that patient had lived in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, the time when the population was exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy in meat products [3].

Ireland has the second highest rate of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle in the world. In 2003, an expert team at the Irish National CJD Surveillance Unit ( modelled the possible risk to the Irish population based on relative exposure to BSE contaminated meat and infectivity of bovine tissue [4]. Their analysis indicated that one case of vCJD would be expected in the future.

Measures to reduce the risk of exposure to the vCJD causative agent via consumption of infected bovine tissue were applied in farming and meat processing in 1996 and via blood donation since 1999 (Irish Blood Transfusion Service,

  1. Setanta Communications Ltd (Ireland). Press release, 9 November 2004
  2. Oireachtas. Dáil Debate – Leader’s Questions. 10 November 2004. (
  3. Birchard K. Variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease found in Ireland. Lancet 1999; 353: 2221.
  4. Harney MS, Ghani AC, Donnelly CA, McConn Walsh R, Walsh M, et al. vCJD risk in the Republic of Ireland. BMC Infect Dis 2003; 3:28. (

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