Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) is the human form of the fatal brain-wasting disease found in cows. According to a study recently published in the United Kingdom, about 30,000 people in Britain are carriers of this disease. Researchers studied appendix samples from 32,441 people and found 16 that tested positive for vCJD. Considering that the population of the United Kingdom is a little over 60 million, that means about 1 in 2,000 people - or roughly 30,000 people total - have it. Researchers believe there is an 8 year incubation period for the disease and there are at least three different forms of the prion protein linked to vCJD. This explains why so many people haven’t gotten sick yet.
The big concern here is that the carriers may transmit the disease. Since there is no blood test to detect vCJD, someone could unknowingly pass the disease on to others. According to the article, there are still a number of questions that need to be answered. The researchers and WHO believe that we need to start taking precautions to secure blood supply to prevent the spread of the disease. This could be costly but it is needed to prevent future cases. Since this disease is so detrimental, and apparently prevalent, funding and prevention of disease transmission need to increase.