CJD turned 'perfect girl into a wreck'

April 28, 2001 The Daily Telegraph
THE brain of a 20-year-old CJD victim resembled that of a "90-year-old who had undergone severe neurological damage", an inquest heard yesterday.

Scientists who investigated Vicky Rimmer's death described her case as the most unusual and difficult they had come across. Miss Rimmer, who loved sports, died in November 1997 after spending four and a half years in a coma.

Miss Rimmer, from Buckley, North Wales, was 15 when she first showed symptoms of CJD in March 1993. Her family claimed the "bubbly, sports-mad, animal lover" died as a result of variant CJD, which has been linked to eating meat from BSE-infected cattle.

But John Hughes, the coroner, recorded a verdict of natural causes, saying the evidence was not clear cut but tended to suggest she died from sporadic CJD. Sporadic CJD has not been linked to BSE-infected cattle and normally affects people in their sixties. The inquest at the North East Wales coroner's court in Flint was told Miss Rimmer was transformed from the "perfect teenage daughter" into a moody and depressed wreck.

Her grandmother and legal guardian, Beryl Rimmer, 61, of Heswall, Merseyside, said: "She did every sport available - ice skating, horse riding, karate, swimming, ballet dancing. She excelled in all of them and was full of health. She was a bubbly girl and always happy. She was the perfect daughter.

"Her health was excellent until March 1993. She was always tall and slim but ate everything in sight, but she started losing weight and started to look anorexic. She started falling, like you see cows with BSE staggering on television."

Prof James Ironside, from the National CJD Surveillance Unit, said Miss Rimmer's case was unique in that tests showed signs of both vCJD and new variant CJD, but had "more similarities to sporadic CJD". He told the inquest that after her death, Miss Rimmer's brain was so damaged it looked like that "of a 90-year-old who had undergone severe neurological damage".

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