Two people suspected of having mad cow disease in Brazil

Black, white and brown cows looking in the camera
Cows at farm in Brazil, photo: Andree Nery via Canva

Brazil is investigating two patients in Rio de Janeiro who are suspected of having Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a variant of mad cow disease that humans can get.

Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, is a fatal disease that slowly destroys an animal’s brain and spinal cord. There’s no cure for it.

Humans can get CJD if they eat nerve tissue of an animal infected with mad cow disease, which is called variant CJD. They can also get sporadic CJD; it’s not exactly known what triggers sporadic CJD.

On Thursday, Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry said that the two cases reported in patients in Rio de Janeiro state were not related to beef consumption. The patients are suspected of having sporadic CJD, the government said.

In September, Brazil confirmed two cases of mad cow disease in animals at two slaughterhouses, triggering a suspension of beef exports to China.

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