The transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (prion diseases): a review for dental surgeons

D S Gill, C J Tredwin, S K Gill, J W Ironside

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (prion diseases) are a fatal group of neurological diseases characterised by the accumulation of an abnormal form of prion protein in the brain. In humans, these disorders occur in sporadic, acquired and familial forms. Outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, predominantly in the United Kingdom, and the emergence of a clinically and pathologically distinct human prion disease, variant CJD, has generated much interest in the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. As the agent is detectable in lymphoid and neural tissue in variant CJD, clinicians should be aware of the possibility of cross infection of the causative agent. This is particularly important because the abnormal prion protein is resistant to routine sterilisation procedures. This article reviews the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, and summarises guidelines concerning prevention of crossinfection when treating patients with or at risk of developing prion disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-46
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Dental Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001


  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome
  • Cross Infection
  • Encephalopathy, Bovine Spongiform
  • Great Britain
  • Humans
  • Infection Control, Dental
  • Kuru
  • Prion Diseases
  • Prions
  • Risk Factors
  • Sterilization


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