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Acquired or Variant CJD (vCJD) is likely to be caused by the consumption of meat from a cow that has bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a prion similar to CJD.

Strict controls have been extremely effective in preventing meat from affected cattle from entering the food chain since the link between CJD and BSE was first recognised in 1996.


The average incubation period (the time for symptoms to occur after initial infection) is still unclear, but it is thought that it could be in excess of 10 years in some cases. This means that those exposed to infected meat before the introduction of food controls can still develop vCJD.

It is also possible for vCJD to be transmitted via blood transfusions, although there have only been 4 recorded cases of this in the UK.

In 2017 there were no recorded deaths in the UK from Variant CJD.

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