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CSEW 'misguided' in vCJD tissue decision

Monday 20th February 2012
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The Coroners Society of England and Wales (CSEW) was 'misguided' in its refusal to participate in a port-mortem tissue archive for the study of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), also known as mad cow disease, according to paper.

A report co-written by a researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said that the organisation failed to recognise its "moral obligation to protect public health" when it refused to allow the collection of autopsy tissue.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) was to create a post-mortem tissue archive due to the risk of the re-emergence of the condition as a second-wave infection.

However, the CSEW refused to cooperate, saying that legality, cost and feasibility would be problematic. It added that its participation would "adversely affect the independence of the coronial service and would further erode public confidence".

The paper, to be published in journal Public Health, concluded that these reasons were insufficient.

vCJD is a fatal disease and, as of yet, there is no known cure. It mainly affects people in their twenties and is caught by eating meat infected with BSE.

Written by Megan Smith

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