Human mad cow infection may be more widespread than previously thought

Friday, August 6th 2004, 10:49 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Scientists have found evidence suggesting the human form of mad cow disease might be infecting a wider group of people than seen so far and that some may develop a milder form of the illness.

Since variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was first identified in 1996, little has been learned about it. Until now, the fatal brain-wasting disease was found only in people who have a certain genetic profile.

But research published this week in a London medical journal report the infection in a person with a more common genetic makeup and with NO symptoms of the illness.

That means more people than previously believed could be incubating the disease, thought to come from eating processed beef products from cattle infected with mad cow disease. It also raises the possibility that some people may get only a mild infection, as opposed to the fatal disease.