Brit Woman Living In FL Believed
To Have Mad Cow Disease

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A 22-year-old British woman living in Florida is believed to have a brain illness linked to mad cow disease, the first known case in the United States, health officials said Thursday. The woman is believed to have caught the fatal disease by eating beef in Britain at the height of that country's cattle epidemic, said Dr. Steve Ostroff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There's every reason to suspect that she acquired her illness there," he said.
Officials with the Florida Department of Health emphasized that there is no reason to suspect cattle in the United States have the cow version, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE.
"All evidence indicates her illness poses no threat to anyone else or the agriculture industry," said state Health Department spokesman Bill Parizek.
Ostroff agreed there was no risk to Americans from the case of "new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease" announced Thursday.
Mad cow disease is a brain-destroying illness that first surfaced in British cattle but now has spread to cattle in much of Europe. A human form, referred to as vCJD, apparently spread by eating infected beef, has claimed more than 90 lives in Britain and parts of Europe.
Mad cow disease, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cows, has never been found in U.S. cattle. Nor had the new vCJD ever been diagnosed in anyone living here - although Americans can get a similar disease, regular CJD.
The woman was born and raised in Britain and lived there at the height of that country's BSE epidemic. She was diagnosed in Britain recently, but is living in Florida with her family now, the CDC said.
British health officials informed their U.S. counterparts of her illness Thursday.

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