Bovine encephalopathy

Chris Lydgate lydgate at reed.edu
Mon Apr 18 22:48:51 EST 1994


Since you brought it up, I'd like to repeat a question I posted to
alt.politics.british, which brought a very uncharacteristic burst of absolute
silence from that group.  Perhaps I'll have more luck here.

Any of you prion junkies familiar with the case of Vicky Rimmer, a British
schoolgirl who took ill with symptoms that resemble Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease?  Apparently the British media had a field day with this one because
her parents said she was fond of hamburgers.  As you know (by now) the idea
of cattle->human spongiform encephalopathy transmission is both
scientifically controversial (there's no evidence of it ever happening) and
political dynamite.  (Goodbye, British beef industry.)

However, I can't seem to get any more recent news.  Is Vicky still alive?  
Does she really have CJD? 

BTW, according to my research (I'm a journalist working on a story about
CJD) the theory that the epidemic of BSE in the UK was caused by scrapie in
sheep is still tentative.  Dr. Mark Robinson, a researcher at the Agricultural
Research Service in Pullman, Washington, has been trying to transmit scrapie
to cattle for several years, without success, even when he fed _raw_
scrapie-infected sheep brains to cattle.

It's true that you can't disprove something by looking for it and not finding
it, but I just mean to say the scrapie->bse link is still just a hypothesis, 
and perhaps a politically expedient one at that.
--
			chris lydgate
			lydgate at reed.edu
			"Per aspera ad nauseam."



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