Sweden probes possible mad cow death

Sweden probes possible mad cow death
Tonsil biopsy in variant CJD. Prion Protein immunostaining
A woman in her fifties from Värnamo in central Sweden died recently of the rare brain-debilitating disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD), Sveriges Radio (SR) reported on Tuesday.

“A patient who had been sick for about six months died the other week. In the last month we established that she had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease,” infectious disease specialist Peter Iveroth told SR.

Health officials will now carry out an investigation into the woman’s death to determine if it may have been caused by the variant of CJD associated with mad cow disease.

The woman’s doctor, however, doubts there is any link between her death and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

“It’s a very hard disease to diagnose and we aren’t 100 percent certain of the diagnosis,” the doctor said, adding the patient was not believed to have Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD).

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) is thought to be passed on to humans who have eaten meat contaminated with BSE.

Over 150 people around the world have died from the disease since it first emerged in 1995.

The other variant of CJD is unrelated to mad cow disease and non-transmissible.

“In this case it is our assessment that it is the older (non-transmissible) variant … we have had that variant in Sweden for many years, before the occurrence of mad cow,” the doctor said, describing sporadic CJD as “extremely unusual.”

Swedish radio reported results for the patient’s complete autopsy could take up to six months.

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