Four cases of the human form of mad cow disease in Republic
Four cases of vCJD, the human form of mad cow disease, were recorded in Ireland from 1996 to 2006 .
It is caused by eating meat from a cow that has been infected with BSE.
Since the link between vCJD and BSE was discovered in 1996, strict controls have proved extremely effective in preventing meat from infected cattle from entering the food chain.
To date there have been 227 cases of vCJD worldwide, three of which were due to blood transfusion, the rest were probably caused by eating contaminated meat products. 176 of these cases, including the three transfusion transmitted cases, were in the UK, and 27 in France.
The average time it takes for the symptoms of variant CJD to occur after initial infection is still unclear.
The incubation period could be very long - over 10 years in some people.
It is only diagnosed after death when a post mortem is carried out.
The victims of confirmed vCJD cases recorded here include a 20-year old Wicklow man.
In 2005, the disease, linked to eating BSE-contaminated beef, claimed the life of 24-year-old Jason Moran of Shankill in south Dublin.
Offaly mother Kay Turner, who had close family near Shankill, died of vCJD in 1999 after spending a number of years in the UK.
Sterilisation methods used to help prevent bacteria and viruses spreading are not completely effective against the prion that causes the disease and are subject to special treatment.
The blood transfusion service here also has precautions in place.
It has restrictions in place for blood donations from people who spent time in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. between January 1 in 1980 and December 31, 1996, including brief trips.
There is currently no cure for vCJD.
Treatment involves helping to relieve symptoms and making the affected person feel as comfortable as possible.
This can include using medication.