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slow virusesA loose term applied to the presumptive causal agents of some nervous system diseases with an INCUBATION PERIOD measured in years. These were formerly thought to include CREUTZFELDT-JAKOB DISEASE, KURU, possibly a form of ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE and, in animals, SCRAPIE and bovine SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY, but these conditions are now known to be caused by PRIONS rather than by viruses. Because of its long incubation period, AIDS is more appropriately designated a slow virus disease.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005