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The BBC's Tim Hirsch
"The only link was that they all ate beef"
 real 28k

Dr Philip Monk, Leicester Health Authority
"They did not use a common butcher"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 03:24 GMT
CJD cluster source 'traced'
Queniborough
vCJD has claimed five victims in Queniborough
Investigators trying to find out what caused a cluster of deaths from the human form of mad cow disease in a Leicestershire village say that meat supplied locally was probably to blame.

An interim report into the cases of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) in Queniborough has ruled out baby food and school meals as likely sources of the infection.

It has also discounted drinking water supplies, and the jobs done by the five victims, who lived within a three-mile radius of one another.


Meat is the only factor that we can establish that potentially links all the cases

Dr Philip Monk, Leicester Health Authority
Local health authority experts do not think that Queniborough's disproportionate death toll from the disease is a coincidence.

The only common link between the victims was that they all ate beef or beef products.

The investigation will now concentrate on the local meat supply chain.

Dr Philip Monk, of Leicester Health Authority, told the BBC: "Meat is the only factor that we can establish that potentially links all the cases.

"We have looked for occupational exposure, animal bites, environmental exposure and we cannot find any common factor between all of the cases in that list of things.

"They may be relevant factors for other people with CJD, but they don't explain our cluster."

Dr Monk said it was known for sure that all the victims did not use one common butcher.

"We have got really to go from farm gate to the butcher's shop to find where these links might be."

Death toll

The Leicestershire vCJD "cluster" was first reported in November 1998, after the disease claimed three lives within 12 weeks that year.

Glen Day, 35, from Queniborough, and Pamela Beyless, 24, from nearby Glenfield, died in October.

Stacey Robinson, 19, formerly of Queniborough, had died two months earlier in August.

A 19-year-old man died from the disease in May this year at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and, at the time, health officials said it was "highly probable" that a 24-year-old man in the county had also contracted it.

A fifth person, a male farm worker, died in September.

A full report into the cluster of deaths is due to be published next March.

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See also:

30 Sep 00 | Health
Fifth CJD victim in 'cluster'
15 Jul 00 | Health
CJD scientists probe abattoirs
14 Jul 00 | Health
Warning over rising CJD cases
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