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Mad Cow Strikes the Young

Young people seem to be more susceptible to the vCJD, thehuman version of Mad Cow Disease. Scientists don't know ifthis is because they eat more hamburgers.

142 people have died from Mad Cow Disease in the U.K. in thelast 9 years, and most of them have been young. Computermodels show that 48% of people with the disease should beover the age of 40, but only 10% actually are?everyone elsewho gets it is young.

Researcher Pierre-Yves Boelle thinks eating more hamburgerscan?t explain this. He says, "We found that exposure alonecould not explain the young age of vCJD cases as seen in theU.K. One possible explanation for the difference insusceptibility could be that the permeability of theintestinal barrier changes with age."

British experts now believe that many more people than theypreviously thought could be infected with vCJD. They gotthis number after testing 12,674 samples of removedappendixes and tonsils. Three of these showed signs of vCJDand taking this percentage of the whole population, theycame up with an estimate of 3,800 people who are likely tohave the disease, although most of them don't know it yet.

What did we do in thepastand what will we do in thefuture?

To keep up with Mad Cow Disease in the U.S.,click here.

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