Fourth Human Mad Cow
Case Likely in France

PARIS (Reuters) - A fourth potential victim of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of ``mad cow'' disease, has been identified in France, according to a government Web site.
The French National Institute of Health, which updates the number of identified cases of the disease each month, said on its Web site "To date, four certain or probable cases of the vCJD have been identified in France.''
Until now, three French people have died as a result of the fatal condition, which is caused by infected beef and has so far proved incurable.
The identity of the fourth person, who is alive and according to media reports aged 35, was not revealed.
Only post-mortem tests can determine with absolute certainty that a patient is suffering from the deadly human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), although biopsies on living people are viewed as fairly reliable.
Those who contract vCJD suffer loss of coordination, confusion and personality changes. More than 100 people have died from the disease since the mid-1990s, most of them in Britain.
A leading scientist in Britain estimated this past week that cases had increased by 20 percent in the country last year.
A report published by the French Senate earlier this year said France can expect up to 300 cases of vCJD in the next 60 years.


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