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More proof links 'mad cow disease' to humans

October 23, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Scientists say they have discovered more medical evidence that deadly "mad cow disease" may be transmitted to humans.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the brain disorder that has killed 14 people in Britain since 1995, does indeed appear to be related to mad cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), according to a report in this week's Nature journal. The finding stems from a new test developed by researchers at St. Mary's Medical School in London.

Earlier this year, British officials said a new form of CJD in humans probably was caused by eating beef from infected cows. But they couldn't be more certain until time-consuming experiments were completed.

Mad cow disease leaves spongy holes in the brain and is thought to be caused by a protein-gone-bad known as a prion. The latest test revealed that the prion in mad cow disease matches the one in humans with the new strain of CJD.

The European Union imposed a worldwide ban on British beef sales in March, after Britain unveiled evidence that people could get CJD by eating infected beef.


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