Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Uncertainities Plague Projections of vCJD Toll," by Michael Balter. Science, 26 October, 2001, pages 770-771.

Little is known about variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the disease connected with eating beef from cattle infected with "mad cow disease." For example, the answers to how may people are infected and how long it takes an infected person to show symptoms are both unknown. Certainly people would like to know the answers to these questions in order to gauge how bad the vCJD might be. Balter describes two mathematical models of the disease and their conflicting conclusions. The upper estimates for the total number of victims for the two models are 136,000 and 10,000. Time may tell the answer as one model predicts a peak in the next few years in the number of vJCD cases.

--- Mike Breen