Half population at risk from mad cow disease
Almost half of the UK population could be at risk from a new form of mad cow disease, according to the government's chief advisor.
The new strain attaches itself to a particular type of gene, carried by 47 per cent of the population, the BBC reported.
Chairman of the government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee Professor Chris Higgins estimated that the number of victims could be between 50 and 350.
He calculated the figure based on the 164 people who died from mad cow disease in the UK during the outbreak in the 1990s.
Professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University Hugh Pennington told the news channel that the new version of the disease probably had not emerged yet because it was more resistant to infection.
However, people would have contracted it around the same time as the original outbreak of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
According to the World Health Organization, most of the victims of vCJD have lived in the UK.
Symptoms start with depression and psychosis, leading to immobility, muteness and death.
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