Readers respond

'vCJD case' very questionable, and please don't cover the French Anderson case

Peter Lachmann(pjl1000@cam.ac.uk)
Aug 15, 2004

To the Editor:

Your story of August 6, "Second blood-linked vCJD case," follows the rest of the press coverage of the paper in The Lancet, but this headline is inaccurate and potentially misleading.

The report is of a man who had received a blood transfusion from a donor who subsequently developed vCJD and who died 5 years later of some other (undisclosed) cause. At post-mortem, he was shown to have prions (PrPsc) in his spleen and lymph nodes—but not in his brain. Nor was there any relevant neuropathology to suggest a spongiform encephalopathy. He is definitely not a case of vCJD.

He was described in the paper as a "preclinical case of vCJD," which is also not necessarily true because it is not known whether everyone who has lymphoid prions will go on to clinical disease, or if they do, how long it will take.

The report shows...

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