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Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
CJD claims 100th victim
Brain
vCJD causes characteristic sponginess in the brain
One hundred people have now died from the human version of mad cow disease v-CJD.

The milestone was announced by government scientists on Thursday.

They warned the number of cases could be gathering pace.

Some scientists had predicted that the number of fatalies would never reach three figures.

Last year the total number of confirmed and probable cases was 28. So far this year the tally is 16.

Bad news


It will be a long time before we have an idea of the scale of the epidemic

Professor Roy Anderson
Professor Roy Anderson, from Imperial College, London, a member of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) said: "Last year was bad news, and this year looks as if it's going to be higher than last year.

"It will be a long time before we have an idea of the scale of the epidemic.

"The bottom line is that the future is still uncertain.

"All I can say at the moment is that I doubt that it's going to get better."

It is not clear whether the 100th case was someone confirmed as having died from the disease, or a "probable" victim.

A "probable" case could either be a person alive and displaying symptoms of vCJD, or a death where post-mortem results are still awaited.

On May 4, when the last official figures were issued by the Department of Health, the number of definite and probable cases stood at 99. A total of six people were still alive.

Inquest

The news came on the day an inquest heard that a relative of the wife of former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Paddy Ashdown died from vCJD.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded on 34-year-old William Armsted by Greater Devon coroner Richard van Oppen at a hearing in Exmouth.

Mr Armsted, of Lympstone, Devon, was a nephew of Sir Paddy's wife Jane. He died on April 17 and is thought to have been the 98th victim of vCJD.

Research carried out last year at the University of Oxford, UK, suggests that the likelihood of millions of people dying from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) are slim.

However, researchers have suggested that deaths could still reach as high as 136,000.

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