About new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD)

Variant CJD was first reported in 1996. Since its discovery 158 people have died from vCJD in Britain (at 2006). Worldwide there have been 198 known cases of vCJD over this period; of these 165 of the cases have been from the UK.
The initial symptoms of vCJD are similar to those of depression; mood swings, memory lapses, fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, withdrawal from social activities, lack of interest in life, and neglect of personal hygiene. There is no proven therapy or cure for any of the forms of CJD. Treatment is based entirely upon reducing symptoms through the use of drugs, and trying to keep the person as comfortable as possible.

According to the World Health Organisation vCJD has affected younger patients with an average age of 29. It has a relatively long duration of illness, around 14 months and is strongly linked to exposure, probably through food, to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or Mad Cow Disease as it is commonly known.

For more information about vCJD see www.cjd.ed.ac.uk

In October 2000, The Secretary of State announced the Government would pay compensation to the victims of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) and their families. Consultations were held, and details of the scheme were announced on 1 October 2001 when £67.5 million was set aside for up to the first 250 cases. The scheme is administered through a Trust Fund set up by government. The total number of cases of vCJD is uncertain and the Government has said it will review the scheme if the total exceeds 250. For more information about the CJD Trust see www.cjdtrust.co.uk.

Information sourced from the vCJD Surveillance Unit at Edinburgh University, NHS Direct and The World Health Organisation.

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