30,000 May Carry Human Form Of Mad Cow

Real World Learning: Roanoke student travels to United Kingdom through prestigious scholarship program

Despite the UK’s strong fiscal financing flexibility underpinned by its own currency with reserve currency status and the long average maturity of public debt, the fiscal space to absorb further adverse economic and financial shocks is no longer consistent with a ‘AAA’ rating. – Higher than previously projected budget deficits and debt primarily reflects the weak growth performance of the UK economy in recent years, partly due to headwinds of private and public sector deleveraging and the eurozone crisis. Fitch has revised down its forecast economic growth in 2013 and 2014 to 0.8% and 1.8%, respectively, from 1.5% and 2.0% at the time of the last review of the UK’s sovereign ratings in September 2012. The UK economy is not expected to reach its 2007 level of real GDP until 2014, underscoring the weakness of the economic recovery. – Despite significant progress in reducing public sector net borrowing (PSNB from a peak of 11.2% of GDP (GBP159bn) in 2009-10, the budget deficit remains 7.4% of GDP (excluding the effect of the transfer of Royal Mail pensions) and is not expected to fall below 6% of GDP and GBP100bn until the end of the current parliament term. The slower pace of deficit reduction means that the next government will be required to implement substantial spending reductions (and/or tax increases) if public debt is to be stabilised and reduced over the medium term. The Stable Outlook on the UK’s sovereign ratings reflects the following factors. – Under Fitch’s baseline economic and fiscal scenario, which assumes a continued policy commitment to reducing the underlying budget deficit and medium-term annual growth potential of 2%-2.25%, government debt gradually falls as a share of national income in the latter half of the decade. – The long average maturity of public debt (15 years) – the longest of any high-grade sovereign -exclusively denominated in local currency and low interest service burden implies a higher level of debt tolerance than many high-grade peers. – The international reserve currency status of sterling and the ability and willingness of the Bank of England to intervene in the UK government debt market largely eliminates the risk of a self-fulfilling fiscal financing crisis. – The gradual improvement in the UK banking sector’s capital and liquidity position has further reduced contingent liabilities arising from this sector. The UK’s ‘AA+’ rating is underpinned by its high-income, diversified and flexible economy as well as a high degree of political and social stability.

Sebastian Brandner, one of the study authors and head of the Division of Neuropathology at Queen Square, one of the largest academic neuropathology departments in the UK. But that estimate was made using a smaller sample, says Brandner. This new study, published Tuesday in the medical journal BMJ, was much larger.Researchers studied appendix samples from 32,441 people and found 16 that tested positive for vCJD. Given that population of the United Kingdom is a little over 60 million, Brandner says that means about 1 in 2,000 people – or roughly 30,000 people total – have this potentially lethal prion. Brandner says the peak of mad cow disease was in 1992, and the peak of the human form of mad cow disease occurred in 2000. This suggests there is an 8-year incubation period for the disease. However, his research has revealed that there are at least three different forms of the prion protein linked to vCJD, which might explain why more people haven’t become sick with the disease – yet. “These people may harbor that [vCJD] for a longer time; they may develop a different type of prion disease; they may be silent carriers,” says Brandner. Brandner says there’s one definite concern: that these silent carriers may be potentially transmitting the disease. There is no blood test to detect vCJD, so someone could unknowingly pass the prion protein on to others when they give blood, and prions are not destroyed by standard sterilization methods usually used for surgical instruments only harsher, stronger sterilization procedures will kill them. According to WHO, the human form of mad cow disease was first reported in the United Kingdom in March 1996 and the first cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was first reported in the United Kingdom in 1986. More than 184,000 cows in the UK were eventually confirmed to have BSE. The average age of death for vCJD is about 28 months, according to the CDC, which is one way it distinguishes itself from classic Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease; classic CJD emerged more than a century ago and affects older people. The average age for this disease, which is not linked to the consumption of meat from cattle with BSE, is 68. In an accompanying editorial in the journal, Roland Salmon, a retired consultant epidemiologist, argues that vCJD is not yesterday’s news because there are many questions that still need to be answered. He notes that blood tests that could be used widely for screening and diagnosing vCJD are still elusive.

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This story is one in an occasional series highlighting Roanoke College students’ real world learning experiences. Studying abroad is one of the best ways to get a taste of the real world – one that is worlds away from the United States. Patrick Dowling, a Roanoke native and a sophomore at Roanoke College, spent the beginning of this past summer halfway around the world studying the impact of the Triangular Trade, a trade route that beginning in the 15th century delivered goods across three continents, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean or American colonies. Dowling was part of the Fulbright Summer Institute, which is a summer program that provides U.S. undergraduate college students with an academic and cultural immersion abroad for three to six-week periods. During the month of June, Dowling studied with nine other American students at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. The summer institute focused on the Triangular Trade, with teaching by scholars from Africa, North America and the United Kingdom. The students researched various topics related to this trade route and presented their findings at the end of the program. Dowling’s research focused on the Triangular slave trade, in which ships transported slaves to America from Africa to work on plantations, where cotton, sugar, tobacco and other goods were produced. Lectures often ventured beyond the typical classroom setting. Students took class trips to explore the city of Bristol and its history. On the checklist of tours, students visited a merchant venture plantation where they could overlook the harbor that the merchant slave ships docked en route to America. By the end of his trip, Dowling said he “knew the city of Bristol better than the actual Bristol students probably did.” Although the educational tours were interesting, Dowling and his fellow students enjoyed exploring Bristol and other cities, including Bathe and London. “The roast done in the pubs every Sunday was great,” Dowling said. “But the chips were awful. I needed American French fries.” He now is back at Roanoke, but he has high hopes of traveling abroad again.

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