The Thirteenth Annual Report of the National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit was published today. The report looks back over the period from May 1990 when the Unit was set up to 31 December 2004. The report outlines the Unit's work in the clinical surveillance of sporadic, variant (vCJD) and iatrogenic CJD.

Also included in the report are details of a study on the potential risk factors for variant and sporadic CJD and the work of the National Care Team in arranging care and advice to the families of CJD patients.

The main issues highlighted are:

153 cases of definite or probable vCJD had been identified in the UK, with 148 deaths reported up to 31 December 2004. Analysis of the incidence of vCJD onsets and deaths from January 1994 to December 2004 provides statistically significant evidence that a peak in the incidence of vCJD has been passed.

The Transfusion Medicine Epidemiology Review had identified the first case of vCJD associated with blood transfusion in 2003 in which a blood recipient had developed symptoms of vCJD 6 1/2 years after receiving a transfusion of red cells donated 3 1/2 years before the donor developed symptoms of vCJD.

The incidence of vCJD across the UK continues to show a "North - South" difference, although slightly less than previously reported, with a higher incidence being maintained in the North of the UK. The underlying reason for this finding is not clear.

It remains the case that the only statistically significant geographic cluster of vCJD cases in the UK was in Leicestershire. This cluster was first identified in July 2000. All geographically associated cases of vCJD are considered for investigation according to a protocol which involves the NCJDSU, the Health Protection Agency, The Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health (SCIEH), and local public health physicians.

There is no evidence of any difference between the UK and other European countries in the incidence of sporadic CJD, nor any significant variation in recorded mortality within the UK.

The NCJDSU is jointly funded by the Department of Health and the Scottish Executive Health Department.

The report is available on the NCJDSU website at