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How many people really have variant CJD, the supersize epidemic and the Blackberry botox

By Alisdair Stirling

Our roundup of health news headlines on Thursday 3 February.

A blood test developed by British scientists could reveal for the first time how many people are infected with variant Creutzfeld Jacob Disease, the human equivalent of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Currently patients suspected of having the human form of BSE have to undergo a series of tests, including a brain biopsy, to confirm a diagnosis.

The new test, reported in The Lancet means large numbers of people could be sampled to give an accurate estimate of how many people are infected with the fatal brain disorder, which can remain dormant in humans for decades. Identified in the 1990s, the illness was traced to the consumption of beef products containing contaminated meat.

Every ambulance service in the country has had to but specialist equipment to deal with the obesity epidemic, the Daily Mail reports. Details released under a Freedom of Information request made by the BBC show that ambulance services have had to invest in special bariatric wide ambulances equipped with double width trolley stretchers to accommodate patients weighing up to 50 stone, hoists, tail lifts and inflatable lifting cushions.

Also in the Mail is the news that frowning at smart phones gives you wrinkles. Dr Jean-Louis Sebagh – medic to the celebs – says peering at a small screen causes your face to scrunch up, creating tension around and between the brows. Dr Sebagh recommends light use of Botox to solve the problem which joins Blackberry thumb on the GP list marked Ailments: Sign of the Times.

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know, and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

Daily Digest – 3 Feb 2011