Evidence is growing that people living in the north of the UK are more likely to develop vCJD, the human form of mad cow disease, than their counterparts in the south of the country. 

The trend has previously been identified by Simon Cousens and his colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who reported in the Lancet journal in March that the highest incidence of vCJD is recorded in Northern England and Scotland, but that experts do not understand why.

Experts on the disease at a surveillance unit in the Scottish capital Edinburgh are now set to carry out further investigation into the trend.

The news was revealed by the ninth annual report of the National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit, and a statement stressed: “Due to the small number of cases on which this is based, this finding should continue to be treated with caution. The unit will continue to study all data closely and carry out further work to determine whether these findings can be substantiated.”