CJD still shows a north-south divide

The incidence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease within the UK continues to be greater in the north of the UK, according to a report published today by the National Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit (NCJDSU).

Although the incidence in the north remains higher than the south, the difference is not as great as figures previously recorded. The reason for the difference remains unclear.

The report is the fourteenth from the group and looks back over the period from May 1990, when the unit was set up, to 31 December 2005.

Issues highlighted in the report are:

  • There were 153 deaths from definite or probable variant CJD (vCJD) in the UK, and a further six probable cases alive, as at 31 December 2005.
  • Analysis of the number of vCJD onsets and deaths from January 1994 to December 2005 continued to indicate that a peak has been passed, although the possibility of cases in other genetic sub-populations cannot be ruled out.
  • The Transfusion Medicine Epidemiology Review identified the second case of vCJD in a small cohort study of known recipients of blood from persons incubating vCJD. This establishes beyond reasonable doubt that blood transfusion is a transmission route.
  • It remains the case that the only statistically significant geographic cluster of vCJD cases in the UK was in Leicestershire. This cluster was first identified in July 2000. All geographically associated cases of vCJD are considered for investigation according to a protocol which involves the NCJDSU, the Health Protection Agency, the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health (SCIEH), and local public health physicians.
  • There is no evidence of any difference between the UK and other European countries in the incidence of sporadic CJD, nor any significant variation in recorded mortality within the UK.

The full report can be found on the NCJDSU website.

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