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Saturday, 30 September, 2000, 23:17 GMT 00:17 UK
Fifth CJD victim in 'cluster'
Queniborough
Queniborough: Experts examining cluster of CJD deaths
A fifth person has died of suspected new variant CJD in a small area of Leicestershire.

The man, who died on Thursday evening after months of illness, is believed to have been a farm worker with links to the village of Queniborough, just north of Leicester.

The village is being investigated by the Department of Health over its high incidence of the new variant CJD - the human form of 'mad cow disease' BSE - after four people living within a five-mile radius of each other, died of the disease.

Their interim findings will be presented to doctors at the health authority at the beginning of November.

A report into the government's handling of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) will be published later this month.

Experts investigating the village are looking to see if people in the area are more susceptible to the disease.

Pamela Beyless
Pamela Beyless: Died in October 1998
The Leicestershire CJD "cluster" was first reported in November 1998, after it claimed three lives within 12 weeks in 1998.

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

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

A 19-year-old man died from the disease in May 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.

The investigation into the Leicestershire cluster included a large team of officials from bodies such as the National CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh.

They are working with the Department of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, the official body monitoring the progress of the disease, said in July there were 69 known victims of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (vCJD) in the UK.

The disease can only be identified with absolute certainty after death.

"The number of cases reported now indicates a statistically significant rising trend of around 20-30% per annum to date," the spokesman said.

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See also:

14 Jul 00 | Health
Warning over rising CJD cases
15 Jul 00 | Health
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18 Jul 00 | Health
Rise in number of CJD victims
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