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How new is new?
  1. R G Will
  1. National CJD Surveillance Unit, Edinburgh University (Old Pharmacy Building), Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK;

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    If variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is caused by bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) it must be a new disease, as human exposure to the BSE agent is unlikely to have happened much before 1983.1 The study by Hillier et al (this issue, pp 304–309)2 adds significantly to the evidence supporting the hypothesis that vCJD really is a new disease, with the caveat that the study unavoidably had incomplete follow up data. No previously unrecognised cases of vCJD were found in a systematic retrospective study in Wales, which included review and restaining of available neuropathological tissue. A similar study based on death certificates in England and Wales between 1979 …

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