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From: TSS ()
Subject: First Dutch "mad cow" disease patient dies
Date: May 3, 2005 at 10:16 am PST

Tuesday 03.05.2005, CET 19:22

May 3, 2005 4:50 PM

First Dutch "mad cow" disease patient dies

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A 26-year old Dutch woman who had recently been diagnosed with the human variant of the brain wasting "mad cow" disease died on Tuesday, her hospital said.

The Mesos hospital in the central Dutch city of Utrecht declined to give further details of the case, the first in the Netherlands, at the request of the family.

The hospital had made a diagnosis of probable variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) disease on April 15 and specialists of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam confirmed the diagnosis on April 18. It is the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that raged among cattle.

Around 150 cases of the brain-wasting disease have been reported in the world, mostly in Britain, but also in France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States.

The disease is fatal and incurable. It is thought to be caused by eating food tainted with material from cattle with BSE or mad cow disease, a progressive neurological disorder.

The Dutch ministry of health has said the woman had not travelled England, nor had she been a receiver of transfused blood, so that the most probably cause of the disease was the eating of tainted meat in the past.

The ministry said a vCJD illness lasts some five months. Unlike the classical form of CJD, which is unrelated to mad cow disease and occurs among elderly people, the variant hits people younger than 30 and manifests itself through depressions, behavioural disturbances, halucinations and loss of balance.

There have been some 77 BSE cases in animals in the Netherlands since 1997 with a peak in 2002, but the government said Dutch beef was safe because all cattle were tested for BSE, and brain and spinal material was kept apart and destroyed.

The Netherlands is one of the world's biggest exporters of meat and dairy products and its livestock sector has undergone major intensification in the past few years with most animals raised on specialised farms.

The country has suffered a series of animal disease crises in the past decade, including swine fever, foot-and-mouth and bird flu, leading to the cullings of millions of animals.

The Netherlands announced strict new restrictions last year on blood donation over concerns about the transmission of vCJD.

Mad cow disease first emerged in British cattle in the 1980s and forced the destruction of millions of cattle.



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