Father of vCJD victim demands probe amid 'cluster' fears

The father of a young man who died from vCJD warned questions must be answered after it emerged two Irish victims lived within a five-mile radius of each other.

The father of a young man who died from vCJD warned questions must be answered after it emerged two Irish victims lived within a five-mile radius of each other.

Robert Moran, the father of Jason Moran from Shankill, Co Dublin, who died last June, said the matter of the close proximity of the victims of the human form of mad cow disease should be investigated.

“There are definitely questions to be answered. Especially when you see people dying from this in more or less the same area,” he said.

“This first one would have been a coincidence, the second one no.”

Kay Turner, 33, from Offaly – the only other person killed by variant CJD in Ireland in the last 10 years – had family living a short distance from Mr Moran. But her death has been attributed to contamination in the UK – as she lived there during a high risk period.

But the third young man, who is currently fighting the same disease, is believed to be from Bray in Co Wicklow.

Mr Moran, who is from Ballybrack in Co Dublin, said the families had lived within four or five miles of each other.

Prof Michael Hutchinson, consultant neurologist at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, said more Irish people were likely to be struck down by the deadly disease.

“It is highly likely there will be patients with vCJD in the next 10 years certainly,” he said, adding the incubation for the disease was lengthy.

He agreed the close proximity of the people affected by the disease should be investigated.

“When you have a very low incident disorder, where there are only actually two cases who have occurred in this area south of Dublin. Then, one can’t be certain about the clustering effect,” he said.

But, he added: “I agree that it should be investigated.”

Prof Hutchinson said examinations of clusterings of victims the UK, which has had the highest prevalence of the disease, had shown only one was due to a local practice.

“There was a local slaughterer who killed his own cattle and he used an unusual method of butchering, which actually involved contamination of meat with central nervous system tissue,” he said.

But Prof Hutchinson said he believed the investigation would be unproductive.

“What we know about these two patients is they are true indigenous Irish cases of vCJD and they are due to eating meat and it’s Irish BSE which is responsible for it,” he told RTE Radio.

The inquest into Mr Moran’s death has heard information about local meat supplies or slaughterhouses was unavailable due to legal reasons. The Dublin County Coroner’s Court also recommended the links between the deaths be explored, and it undertook to point out the possible geographical connections to relevant government departments.

Mr Moran said: “My heart goes out to the other family, whose son is in the same situation as my son.”

After the 24-year-old first started to show symptoms of a neurological disorder in September 2004, he rapidly deteriorated before his death last June.

Mr Moran said by November of 2004 his son did not recognise family members.

“That is the unfortunate part about this disease, from the onset of it, it is very rapid,” he said, adding his son was a jolly and popular person before he was struck down with the disease.

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