Variant CJD: 18 years of research and surveillance

Abigail B Diack, Mark W Head, Sandra McCutcheon, Aileen Boyle, Richard Knight, James W Ironside, Jean C Manson, Robert G Will

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


It is now 18 years since the first identification of a case of vCJD in the UK. Since that time there has been much speculation over how vCJD might impact on human health. To date there have been 177 cases reports in the UK and a further 51 cases worldwide in 11 different countries. Since establishing that BSE and vCJD are of the same strain of agent, we have also shown that there is broad similarity between UK and non-UK vCJD cases on first passage to mice. Transgenic mouse studies have indicated that all codon 129 genotypes are susceptible to vCJD and that genotype may influence whether disease appears in a clinical or asymptomatic form, supported by the appearance of the first case of potential asymptomatic vCJD infection in a PRNP 129MV patient. Following evidence of blood transfusion as a route of transmission, we have ascertained that all blood components and leucoreduced blood, in a sheep model of vCJD have the ability to transmit disease. Importantly, we recently established that a PRNP 129MV patient blood recipient with an asymptomatic infection with limited PrP(Sc) deposition in the spleen could readily transmit disease into mice, demonstrating the potential for peripheral infection in the absence of clinical disease. This, along with the recent appendix survey which identified 16 positive appendices in a study of 32 441 cases, underlines the importance of continued CJD surveillance and maintaining control measures already in place to protect human health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-295
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Early online date1 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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