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Second Italian dies of human mad cow disease

Livorno woman follows Sicilian woman in 2003

06 January, 14:19
Second Italian dies of human mad cow disease (ANSA) - Livorno, January 6 - Italy on Thursday saw its second death from the human variant of mad cow disease, a Livorno hospice for the dying reported Wednesday.

The 44-year-old woman from Livorno was admitted to the hospice in July in the final stages of her battle against variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of the fatal brain-wasting illness.

Italy's first case, a Sicilian woman, died in 2003 after struggling with vCJD for about a year.

The variant of CJD, for which there is no known cure, is believed to be caused by eating meat infected with mad cow disease or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).

There have been 275 cases of vCJD worldwide over the last decade, including 170 in Britain, the worst-affected country, 56 in Israel, and 25 in France.

Almost 190,000 cattle have died from the bovine form in the same period, the vast majority in the UK.

A massive cull in Britain prevented the spread of the disease but isolated cases are still reported.

EU restrictions on people eating beef-off-the-bone and offal were lifted in 2006 as the 'mad cow' crisis was declared officially over.