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Friday, 9 March, 2001, 13:15 GMT
Scientists find cause of CJD cluster
The village of Queniborough
Five people died in Queniborough's CJD cluster
Investigators say they have traced the exact cause of Britain's first CJD cluster in the village of Queniborough in Leicester.

But the results will not be published until villagers themselves are told on 21 March.

Like so many scientific matters it was staring us in the face

Dr Philip Monk, consultant in communicable disease control at Leicester Health Authority
An inquiry was launched last July after five people with close connections to Queniborough died from the illness.

An interim report into the cases of Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) in November decided that meat supplied locally was probably to blame for the cluster.

Scientists ruled out baby food and school meals as the source of the infection.

They also discounted drinking water supplies and the jobs done by the five victims, who all lived within a five-kilometre (three-mile) radius of one another.

Death toll

They said that the disproportionate death toll from the disease was unlikely to be a coincidence.

The only common link between the victims was that they all ate beef or beef products, but they did not share a common butcher.

Dr Philip Monk, consultant in communicable disease control at Leicester Health Authority, said the latest finding pointed to an extremely obvious source.

He said: "Knowing what I know, it is extremely obvious.

"When I shared with colleagues what we had found, they said why didn't we think of that before."

"Like so many scientific matters, it was staring us in the face."

Leicester victims

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 1998.

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 same time health officials said it was "highly probable" that a 24-year-old man in the county had also contracted the disease.

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

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See also:

08 Nov 00 | Health
CJD cluster source 'traced'
14 Feb 01 | Health
CJD compensation announced
04 Jan 01 | Scotland
Single-use scalpels to combat CJD
06 Dec 00 | Wales
Warning over CJD deaths
22 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
CJD test closer
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