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Health Department Says No Evidence Fatal Disease is Mad Cow

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, February 10, 2012

The Marin County Public Health Officer, Dr. Craig Lindquist, says one person who was diagnosed with a brain disorder similar to Mad Cow Disease has passed away, but that the person did not contract the disease from contaminated beef.  That makes it the classic form of the disease and not the varient form.   

There is another resident still living with Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease or CJD.  Lindquist says there is no evidence it is of the varient variety either. 

CJD is very rare, but always fatal.  It attacks the memory, hand eye coordination and vision before killing the victim within a year. 

The Mad Cow variant of the disease can be spread only by contact with the brain tissue or nervous system tissue of someone or something that is afflicted.  Twenty five years ago, nearly 170 people died of the variant form of the disease in Europe.

Doctor Richard Breitmeyer runs the lab at UC Davis that  tests  Mad Cow disease in sheep and cattle.  

BREITMEYER:  "The current science believes in the United Kingdom that was the cause of Varient CJD in people in that they had consumed meat products that were contaminated with the bovine form."

Breitmeyer's lab is one of six in the nation.

Cattle fed with bovine bone meal was found to be a significant cause of the spread of the disease in Europe.  Of the 40,000 animals tested each year in the United States since, only two tested positive.

In humans, 85 percent of those afflicted with classic CJD had no known risk factors.  Five to ten percent had a genetic history of the disease.

Bob Moffitt Capital Public Radio News.

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