Another Mad Cow Fatality -
Fifteen Year Old Girl Dies
From vCJD
The mother of a schoolgirl who died from the human form of mad cow disease warned yesterday that the condition was "a nightmare waiting to happen".
Claire McVey, 15, died on January 11 from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after months of illness. She is thought to be the youngest person to die from the disease which has so far killed 52 people in Britain.
Following the inquest in Barnstaple, Devon, Claire's mother Annie McVey, of Kentisbury Ford, Devon, said: "This time last year I had everything. But I didn't spend Claire's 16th birthday having sweet 16 parties, I spent it at her graveside.
"This time next year this could be you. It's a nightmare waiting to happen and until the next 20 or 30 years of incubation we won't know."
In a statement read to the inquest, Mrs McVey, a registered nurse, said she spent up to 24 hours a day caring for her "amazing" daughter.
Claire had danced with the English National Ballet and was a good netball player and swimmer. She planned a career as a lawyer in the United Sates.
But in March last year she became moody and depressed.
She became abusive and felt out of control. She "looked panicked and anxious" and felt unsteady.
Eventually CJD was diagnosed. "My daughter was amazing. I think she was relieved when she found out something physical was wrong. A year later I'm still reeling from the rapidity of her decline," Mrs McVey said.
Coroner Richard van Oppen said she had died after a "random consumption" of a meat product contaminated with BSE.

Inquest Told Of Girl's Rapid CJD Decline
By Simon De Bruxelles link
The first time that 15-year-old Claire McVey's mother realised her daughter was seriously ill was when she refused to wear her clumpy Spice Girls platform shoes to school.
It was a terrifying inkling that her daughter was to become the youngest victim of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD).
Anne McVey told an inquest into her daughter's death yesterday that she had deteriorated with frightening speed but then clung on to life for six agonising months.
At first Mrs McVey blamed herself for her daughter being out of sorts, fearing that her new relationship was the reason for the dramatic mood swings and weight loss.
It was only when Claire told her that she wanted to wear trainers because she felt so unsteady on her feet that she realised the terrible fate that lay in store for her "lively, vibrant daughter" who had hoped one day to study law in the US.
Mrs McVey, 41, warned other parents that the same ordeal could happen to them: "This time next year this could be you. It's a nightmare waiting to happen and until the next 20 or 30 years of incubation we won't know."
The inquest in her home town of Barnstaple, north Devon, heard that at 4.50pm on January 11 Claire became Britain's youngest victim of new variant CJD, the human form of "mad cow" disease contracted from eating infected meat.
Her mother, a professional nurse, described in a written statement how the teenager deteriorated within a few short weeks last summer although, in the end, it took her six months to die.
Mrs McVey said: "It seems such a small thing now. She asked that I write to her school requesting permission for her to wear trainers rather than shoes because she felt herself to be unsteady on the stairs.
"I noticed that she didn't have so many showers or baths, which I now know was because she felt unsteady. Giving up her high clumpy shoes told me more clearly than anything else that I was right to be thinking of physical causes."
For several weeks Claire had complained about "feeling thick" and "out of control". She started asking for notes to excuse her from PE.
In a written statement which was read to the inquest Mrs McVey said: "It was obvious then that she was having difficulty with her balance. Over the next few weeks Claire smashed two telephones and gouged into a table with a pen. She was unable to explain why, she just looked anxious.
"The next month saw an acceleration in the severity of her symptoms and regression in her behaviour. She became younger than her years and was seen by an optician who felt her eyesight had deteriorated quickly.
From being an active and lively teenager whose physical ability had earned her a coveted place as a junior dancer with the English National Ballet, she became clumsy and confused, her speech muddled and prone to uncharacteristic outbursts of anger.
Claire first saw her doctor on June 9 last year. Mrs McVey thought the problems could be a psychological reaction to her own relationship with her new boyfriend Wayne Lee. Two close family relatives had also died within a short space of time.
When it became clear the illness was physical appointments were made at North Devon District Hospital and the Frenchay Hospital Bristol. On August 5 Frenchay ruled out a tumour. Tests later confirmed that she was suffering from new variant CJD.
Recording a verdict of misadventure, Richard Van Oppen, the North Devon coroner, said the disease was caused by "consumption of a meat product contaminated in some way and to some extent by BSE".

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