Mad Cow Disease Death Confirmed in Texas
A man in Houston, Texas has died from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a fatal brain disorder believed to be caused by eating beef from cattle with mad cow disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
It is the fourth known death from the disease in the U.S., the CDC said. The man, who died in May, was born and raised in a Middle Eastern country. The CDC declined to say which country to ensure his and his family’s privacy.
The man is believed to have acquired the disease during extensive travels in Europe and the Middle East, according to Dr. Ermias Belay, associate director for medical epidemiology at the CDC.
“It’s very likely that the exposure may have occurred outside of the United States, but we can’t say for sure exactly when,” Belay told Al Jazeera.
Among the other three patients who have died in the U.S., two are U.K. citizens who are believed to have been infected before coming to the U.S., and the third was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Belay told Al Jazeera.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans is thought to be caused by eating cows with bovine spongiformencephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as mad cow disease, which was first reported in the U.K. in 1996.
The number of cows afflicted with BSE in the U.K. peaked in 1993 with nearly 1,000 new cases per week, but incidence of the disease plummeted to just 11 cases in 2010. Just four cows with BSE have been found in the U.S., according to the CDC.
In humans, more than 220 cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) have been reported across the world, with 177 in the U.K. and 27 in France. A “classic” form of CJD that isn’t caused by the bovine disease also occurs at a rate of about 1 per 1 million people in the U.S.