Patient with first Dutch case of human form of mad cow disease dies

The first patient in the Netherlands to be diagnosed with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of mad cow disease, died Tuesday, the Health Ministry said.

The 26-year-old Dutch woman, whose name has not been released, was diagnosed last month as the first case of the variant form of the brain disease in this country.

Health Ministry spokesman Bas Kuik said the woman died at the Mesos Hospital in Utrecht.

She was believed to have become infected by eating tainted beef before 1997, when the country introduced tight restrictions on beef and beef imports.

Seventy-seven Dutch cows are known to have been infected since 1997 with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, which is believed to cause variant CJD in humans.

The disease spread through cattle in Europe and Asia after a wave of infections in Britain in the mid-1980s, prompting massive destruction of herds and devastating the European beef industry.

So far, about 160 people in Europe and North America - the vast majority of them in Britain - are known to have contracted the disease.

The Health Ministry says Dutch beef is now safe because it is tested for the disease and nerve tissue is routinely removed before it goes on the market.


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