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Mad cow disease causes fifth human death in Spain

Latest update : 2009-03-07

A woman died of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in northern Spain, according to authorities on Friday. This human variant of the mad cow disease has already killed five people in the country, with the first death reported back in 2005.

AFP - The Spanish government late Friday confirmed the country's fifth fatality from the human variant of mad cow disease, a woman who died in the northern city of Santander in January.

The health ministry said laboratory tests confirmed that the woman had Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) as the human variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, is known.

"The appearance of sporadic cases of the disease does not indicate new risks for the health of the public," it said in a statement.

The last death in Spain which was confirmed to have been due to the brain-wasting disease took place in August 2008 in the northwestern region of Castilla and Leon.

Spain recorded its first human death from mad cow disease in June 2005 when a 26-year-old woman succumbed to it in Madrid.

More than 200 people around the world are suspected to have died, most of them in Britain, from the human variant of the disease, which was first described in 1996.

Scientists believe the disease was caused by using infected parts of cattle to make feed for other cattle.

Authorities believe eating meat from infected animals can trigger the human variant of the fatal brain-wasting disease.

The 27-member EU, of which Spain is part, has banned high-risk materials such as spinal cord from use in feed and stricter labelling was also introduced.

Date created : 2009-03-07