Japan confirmed its first human case of mad cow disease today following the death of a man who had symptoms of the fatal brain-wasting illness, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News agency reported.
The Health Ministry confirmed earlier today that a Japanese citizen was suspected of having the human variant of mad cow disease and officials were holding an emergency meeting to determine whether it was caused by eating infected beef.
The ministry refused to immediately confirm the NHK and Kyodo reports.
The news organisations reported that the patient was in his 50s and had lived for several months in Britain, where mad cow first surfaced, in the late 1980s. NHK said the man had died and that there were no fears of the disease spreading.
The human variant of Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease has only been confirmed or deemed probable in 167 people worldwide, virtually all of them in Britain but also in France, the US, Ireland, Italy and Canada – though hundreds of thousands of people have likely eaten contaminated beef products.