- LONDON (Scripps Howard) -- At least 16 more Britons may have died of
the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- BSE, or "mad
cow" disease -- than the 27 official victims -- and that they began
dying 11 years before the first recognized case in 1995, a scientist is
expected to say Monday
- Harash Narang, laid off from his British
government-funded job four years ago, believes British authorities have
either blocked or undermined important tests into both the cattle disease
and its transmission to humans.
- Narang -- who believes that the human
disease, known as new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, should be named
after him -- will testify Monday at a BSE inquiry.
- The 56-year-old.microbiologist alleges
in a written statement that he was "victimized" by the Public
Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) and that he identified several patients
with atypical symptoms from traditional CJD long before the new variant
was announced in March 1996, and linked to the eating of infected beef.
The first acknowledged victim was Stephen Churchill, 19, who died in May
- Narang claims he identified the condition,
which follows a pattern of psychological problems, depression, instability,
coma and death, in 1988. He says that the first death probably occurred
in 1984 and involved people in their 60s as well as the mainly young people
identified by the CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh.
- Narang claims he was ordered to stop
experiments on possible transmission of BSE to humans in 1990. When he
refused, the rodents involved were killed.
- He says: "Had these experiments
been completed ... and had the preliminary indications been confirmed,
we would have been in no doubt about the link between BSE and CJD and many
lives could have been saved."
- Narang, who believes the infectious agent
in BSE is a virus, says: "The government should have kept on open
mind and should have encouraged a wide range of approaches rather than
shutting down any line of inquiry which did not conform."
- The PHLS has denied any victimization.
It said it sought to bring his work to scientific and professional attention
despite his "misconduct."
- He was subject to two sets of disciplinary
proceedings. The first was over "unsafe practices," for which
he was given a written warning; the second was over unauthorized investigations
into CJD victims. The disciplinary investigation into the second case in
1993 found conduct that "justified instant dismissal," but he
was released from other duties to work in London while on PHLS pay.
- He was laid off in November 1994 and
lost a claim for unfair dismissal.