HC Deb 29 October 1998 vol 318 cc294-5W
Mr. Duncan

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the relative risk of contracting new variant CJD from(a) cross- contamination between patients from hospital surgical instruments used in tonsillectomies and appendectomies and (b) eating beef on the bone. [57200]

Ms Jowell

After careful consideration of the case in which the abnormal prion protein associated with new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD) was detected in the appendix of a patient who had subsequently died of the disease, the Joint Working Group of the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) and the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) concluded that given all the circumstances surrounding the use of surgical instruments the risk to other patients was minimal.

SEAC has subsequently reviewed the implications of this incident for the risks generally of transmission of nvCJD through surgical instruments. The Committee concluded that because so little is known about the infective agent further studies were needed before a definitive assessment of risk could be undertaken.

Our decision to ban the sale of beef on the bone was taken in the light of advice from SEAC and taking account of the views of the Chief Medical Officer. This advice, together with the Government's response, is published, and copies are available in the Library.

The very limited information about risks in either case means that it is not possible to make any meaningful comparison of the risk of contracting nvCJD through contaminated surgical instruments and eating beef on the bone.

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