MAD COW DISEASE: Study Confirms Link in Humans
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, has been definitively linked to the human variant of the same disorder, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. New laboratory findings, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the infectious protein known as prion was found in both cows and humans, and that it may travel more easily between species than had previously been thought. It is now almost certain that the 51 Europeans who have died from CJD contracted the disease from consuming infected beef. Stephen DeArmond, a senior author of the study, said, "These findings argue unequivocally that BSE and the new variant CJD are the same strain of prion." Donald Price, a neurological disease researcher at Johns Hopkins, said the link between eating tainted beef and developing the disease is "something the European Community should be concerned about." This August, U.S. and Canadian health officials declared a ban on blood donation from persons who had traveled to Great Britain and stayed for at least six months between 1980 and the present, in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease. CJD typically has an incubation period of at least 10 years, leaving experts unable to predict how many people are infected (Recer, 12/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.