The first case of a brain-wasting illness sometimes
linked to mad cow disease was reported in Italy Thursday--a
63-year-old man who died last month in a Rome hospital.
The Heath Ministry confirmed the rare case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease, but said the man suffered from a form of the ailment not
related to mad cow disease.
State television and the ANSA news agency said the victim was a
businessman from Fiumicino, a seaside town 31 kilometers (20 miles)
from Rome where the city's international airport is located.
The accounts said he became ill June 10 and was treated in
several hospitals before dying on Aug. 22 in a Rome hospital.
Doctors suspected various ailments, including a brain tumor,
stroke and Alzheimer's, before tests finally revealed that he was
suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob is extremely rare, affecting one person in a
About 50 people in Britain have died of a form of the illness
linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.
No cases of cattle ailment have been found in Italy but the
reports of businessman's death, which repeatedly referred to ``mad
cow'' disease, provoked an alarmed reaction.
Consumer and agricultural groups quickly called for a ban beef
imports from Britain and the Green Party urged the government to
take urgent measures to stop the spread of the disease.
A European Union report last month warned that mad cow disease
"is uncertain, but likely" in Italy, Spain and Germany, where no
cases had been found so far.
The analysis was based on patterns of live cattle and
cattle-feed exports from Britain during the 1980s and 1990s when
British herds were hit by an epidemic blamed on cattle feed that
included ground animal remains.
Since the British outbreak, which affected some 180,000 cattle,
about 200 cases have been found in cattle in Portugal and smaller
numbers in Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France,
Denmark and, Switzerland.