Mad cow disease timebomb as doctors fear second wave of deaths

A second wave of deaths caused by mad cow disease could sweep Britain up to 50 years after our worst food scandal in 1993.

Long incubation periods for people with a certain gene type mean many do not even know they have deadly variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Until 2009, all 176 victims had the same MM genetic make up.

But that year Grant Goodwin, 30, became the first person in the world with gene type MV to die of vCJD.

And in 2014, a 36-year-old British man was the second.

Richard Knight, Professor of Neurology at the CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh said: “There is still so much uncertainty about this disease.

“And one of the things that is
uncertain is how many people in the UK are silently infected.

“At the moment I have to say we are simply not sure, but every prediction suggests there are going to be further cases,” he told a BBC investigation.

Mad cow disease – Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) – was detected in British cattle in the late 1980s.

Millions of cows were culled in the UK, with 1,000 new cases a week at its 1993 peak.

An inquiry found it was caused by cattle being fed the remains of other cattle.

Its first victim was 19-year-old Stephen Churchill, of Devizes, Wilts, who died in 1995 five years after eating infected meat.

  • Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal, BBC2, Thursday, July 11.

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