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Texas mad cow disease: Bovine infection death is 4th U.S. case ever

In Texas, a patient died of mad cow disease this week, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC). Officials say an unidentified Texan passed away from BSE, a rare infection of the brain, which is associated with the bovine infection, typically passed on by contact with tainted meat from cows. The mad cow disease death in Texas is the fourth U.S. confirmed case of the often fatal infection, but officials -- at this time -- say there is no public health threat, citing a June 5 CNN report

Cattle buyers check beef at the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market June 27, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan.
Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

The Texas mad cow disease case is the first ever case diagnosed in the Lone Star State. And although many patients who contract the disease from infected beef often die within 14 months, federal and state officials say there is no threat of human to human infection.

Officials have not released any identifying information about the person who succumbed to the mad cow infection. All is known is that the deceased person had recent extensive travel in the Middle East and the United Kingdom, where many of the world's infections have occurred.

It’s very likely that the exposure may have occurred outside of the United States, but we can’t say for sure exactly when," said Dr. Ermias Belay, associate director for medical epidemiology at the CDC, according to Aljazeera.

Officials are likely downplaying fears because the four deaths from mad cow disease represent only one fatality per million people.

This latest fatality in Texas from mad cow disease involved a rare infection called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). It is from a variant which involves the targeting of the brain of the infected person. There is no vaccine and the person eventually dies from CJD. The only form of treatment involves palliative or supportive care for a victim.

Mad cow disease, often called mad cow's disease, first gained attention in the mid-'80s when researchers discovered the strain in the UK. In 2003, South Korea had a scare from the disease and accused the United States of having tainted beef. However, three years later, when fears were allayed, the country again began importing U.S. beef.

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