Texas Patient Dies of Mad Cow Variant, but Officials Say Not to Worry

State and federal health officials have confirmed that a Texas patient has died of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare and fatal brain disorder "associated with beef consumption overseas."

"There are no Texas public health concerns or threats associated with this case," the Texas Department of State Health Services posted on its site. The identity and location of the patient -- who is only the fourth case of variant CJD in the U.S. -- have not been released.

"First described in 1996 in the United Kingdom, variant CJD is a rare, degenerative, fatal brain disorder in humans," according to a Centers for Disease Control press release. "It is believed to be caused by consumption of products from cows with the disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or 'mad cow' disease)."

The Texas patient, like the other three patients who died from the disease, was likely infected outside of the U.S., officials say.

"The history of this fourth patient includes extensive travel to Europe and the Middle East," according to Texas officials.

The CDC reports that "worldwide, more than 220 variant CJD patients have been reported, with a majority of them in the United Kingdom (177 cases) and France (27 cases)."

The CDC also states that "a classic form of CJD, which is not caused by the BSE agent, occurs worldwide, including in the United States. Annually, for every 1 million people in the United States, 1 to 2 develops classic CJD."

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