Italian woman seriously ill with mad cow disease

A woman in northern Italy is seriously ill in hospital after reportedly being infected with the human version of mad cow disease.

It is only the second case of the brain-wasting illness variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ever reported in Italy.

The first case was reported in 2002 in a woman in Sicily.

The Italian Health Ministry said today that the latest case had been diagnosed in October 2009.

Italian news reports said the 42-year-old woman was in hospital in Livorno.

Officials said the case probably dates back to the 1990s.

Experts believe the human form of the illness is transmitted by eating meat from infected animals.

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