Progress staff reports
Jacksonville Daily Progress
CHEROKEE COUNTY —
DALLAS (AP) – Health officials say a Texas patient is the fourth person in the United States to die of a rare brain disorder that is believed to be caused by consumption of beef products contaminated with mad cow disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a statement that recent laboratory tests confirmed a diagnosis of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the patient.
The CDC says that in each of the three previous U.S. cases, infection likely occurred outside the U.S. And the center says the Texas patient's history included extensive travel to Europe and the Middle East and suggests the infection occurred outside the country.
Chris Taylor, the executive director of Cherokee County Public Health, said there are no known cases of mad cow disease in the county. However, "it doesn't mean it cannot happen."
Taylor said people should take precautions by checking the food they consume, especially when they travel.
"It can be as easy as asking your food server where the food they sell is purchased," he said.
Taylor advised against consuming meat that cannot be traced to its source or that is sold on the side of the road. If someone begins to experience symptoms such as problems with muscular coordination, personality changes, impaired memory or impaired vision, they should consult a healthcare provider.
The CDC says that worldwide more than 229 variant CJD patients have been reported, with a majority of them in the United Kingdom and France.
The Texas Department of State Health Services says there are no state public health concerns or threats associated with the case. The CDC and DSHS are investigating.
The CDC says there is no known treatment for the disease and it is invariably fatal.
The Daily Progress and the National Institute of Health contributed to this story.