Studies have shown that human beings are susceptible to mad cow disease, as a large number of Britons has been confirmed to carry the human form of the disease (Falco par.1). This implies that in every 2,000 people, one person has the protein that is associated with the disease. From these statistics, 30,000 Britons carry the protein. However, research has not revealed the number of carriers that are likely to develop the disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob is the scientific and medical name used to refer to the human form of mad cow disease (Falco par.2).
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Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a disorder that damages the brain. It is caused by consuming meat that is contaminated by mad cow disease. The protein that codes for this disease in humans is known as prion protein (PrP) (Falco par.4). There is high likelihood that many people will develop the disease at some point in their life. The incubation period of the disease is not yet known although scientists estimate it to be approximately 8 years.
The results of the research study were obtained from an analysis of 32,441 appendixes. The researchers tested them for the abnormal prion protein. The protein was found in only 16 samples (Falco par.4). This equated to one case in every 2,000 people. Currently, only 177 cases of the disease have been reported in Britain. However, millions of people could be carriers of the disease.The research gave estimates based on the number samples that tested positive.
The estimated number of carriers may be erroneous because of the technological limitations of methods used to analyze the samples. In addition, researchers are not certain how long it takes to detect prions (Falco par.6). This implies that more people might be carriers of the disease only that prions have not yet reached the detection stage. Genetic profiling carried out by researchers on the samples revealed that more Britons could be carriers.
Two types of variations on the gene that codes for the causative proteins exist. These are VV variation and MM variation (Falco par.7). Four samples that tested positive were obtained from individuals with VV variation. Research indicates that only 15% of Britons have this type of variation. On the other hand, four samples that tested positive came from people with MM variation. Research indicates that approximately 45% of Britons have this type of variation (Falco par.9). The relationship between the protein and these variations has not yet been clearly established. However, all the reported cases of the disease involved people with MM variation. Researchers have suggested an incubation period of eight years. Therefore, it might take long before detection of more cases of the disease (Falco par.9).
Falco, Miriam. 30,000 May Carry Human Form of Mad Cow. 2013. Web.