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Only one person in Taiwan has human form of mad cow disease: CDC

2012/04/28 19:13:31

Taipei, April 28 (CNA) There is only one reported case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) -- the fatal human form of mad cow disease -- in Taiwan, which was likely caused by the person eating infected beef, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Saturday.

"The single vCJD case involves an individual who lived for some time in the U.K. and fell ill after returning to Taiwan. According to specialists, he likely contracted vCJD during his stay in the U.K. and not in Taiwan," said CDC Deputy Director-General Chow Jih-haw.

Chow added that the increase in the number of classic CJD patients over the last few years had to do with the disease being categorized as a communicable and reportable disease in 2007, and was not related to beef consumption.

The deputy minister's remarks came amid media reports that the surge in the number of classic CJD patients in Taiwan was connected to U.S. beef imports.

According to CDC statistics, there were 12 cases of classic CJD in Taiwan in 2007, 23 in 2008, 23 in 2009, 24 in 2010 and 17 in 2011. As of March this year, there has been one reported case.

Classic CJD -- not associated with beef consumption -- can be hereditary, occur randomly in a person or be contracted during an operation. The human form of mad cow disease, however, is caught by eating meat infected with mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Meanwhile, there have been voices to block imports of U.S. beef to reduce the risk of people becoming infected with vCJD, following the discovery of a case of mad cow disease in California earlier in the week.

Imports of U.S. beef have been a sore point in the trade relationship between Taipei and Washington.

Taiwan first banned imports when a case of BSE was reported in the state of Washington in December 2003, but re-opened its doors to imports of boneless U.S. beef from cattle under 30 months old in April 2005.

It imposed another ban in June 2005 when a second U.S. case was reported.

Imports of certain cuts of U.S. beef have since been resumed, but Washington has been pressing for wider opening and, more recently, has lobbied strongly for Taiwan to lift its ban on beef containing ractopamine residues.

(By Nancy Liu)
ENDITEM/npw