Dying for a meat pie

Dying for a meat pie

June 24, 2001 Sunday Mirror by Carl Fellstrom

PEOPLE living in the North and Scotland are twice as likely to contract the human form of mad cow disease as those in the South.

Figures show that there are three cases of Variant CJD per million people in the north of the UK compared to just 1.5 cases in the South - and the Northern taste for meat pies, burgers and kebabs is being blamed.

At first scientists believed the differences could be put down to a more thorough identification of vCJD cases in the North.

But Professor Robert Will, from the Edinburgh-based CJD Surveillance Unit which helped carry out the research, believes that regional differences in diet is the real explanation.

"A greater consumption of meat products - rather than meat itself - might be a factor," he said. "These would include pies, burgers and kebabs."

Experts at the CJD Surveillance Unit and researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine stress the findings are not conclusive. They also acknowledge the vCJD cluster in Leicestershire, where five have died, was due to the way meat was prepared by butchers and slaughterhouses.

Dr Philip Monk, who carried out the research into the Leistershire cluster, said further studies were being carried out to explain the greater incidence of the disease in the North.

"If we find a conclusive factor for the incidence of vCJD it will include a collection of different factors that may also include genetics and the preparation of the meat products."

A 14-year-old girl is believed to have become the youngest person in Britain to contract vCJD. The unnamed girl, whose condition is said to be "serious and declining", is the first sufferer who was born since the disease was identified in cattle in 1987.

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