News of the WeekSPONGIFORM DISEASE

Experts Downplay New vCJD Fears

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Science  08 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5485, pp. 1663-1666
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5485.1663b

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Summary

The chilling scenario of getting "mad cow disease" from eating products of other animals besides just cows was splashed across the mainstream British press last week based on a report from a leading U.K. lab that prions--abnormal proteins linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy and its human form, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease--can jump from one species to another more easily than previously believed. Although some experts say the findings raise concern about a threat to human health, others decry the media frenzy and contend that the new research adds little to what is known about the mysterious, fatal diseases.

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