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California case raises mad cow concerns

Posted - Nov. 12, 2004 at 3:20 p.m.



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COLTON, Calif., Nov 12, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A California man has died from a brain disorder and his brother said the neurologist involved thought it might be the human form of mad cow disease.

The neurologist would not speak with United Press International about the case, but if the man -- 49-year-old Patrick Hicks -- suffered from the human version of mad cow disease, also known as variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, it would be the first domestic-born case of the brain-wasting illness.

One case of vCJD previously was detected in the United States in a Florida woman, but she is thought to have contracted it while in England.

Hicks died early Thursday at Reche Canyon Health Care Center in Colton. Initial test results conducted prior to his death indicated he had sporadic Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, his brother Mike Hicks told UPI.

However, CJD has no known cause and typically strikes people in their 60s or older. So Patrick's relatively young age raises concerns he was suffering from vCJD, which humans can contract from eating beef products contaminated with the mad cow pathogen.

The California Department of Health said it was investigating but only an examination of the brain after death could distinguish what type of CJD Patrick Hicks had.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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