The Saudi-born man, reported to the CDC by the Virginia Department of Health, likely contracted the disease during his youth in Saudi Arabia from consuming cattle contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the CDC reported on its web site.
"The current patient has no history of donating blood and the public health investigation has identified no risk of transmission to U.S. residents from this patient," the report said.
Mad cow disease is thought to have started when cattle were fed improperly processed sheep remains, possibly infected with the degenerative disease known as scrapie, although no cases of scrapie contaminated meat directly affecting a human have been reported. The BSE outbreak received prominent attention when it began affecting herds in Great Britain in the 1980s, and people began showing signs of CJD (also known as vCJD) a few years later. The disease has a long incubation period, normally affects one in a million people worldwide, mostly the elderly, is incurable, and 100 percent fatal.
"As of November 2006, 200 vCJD patients were reported worldwide, including 164 patients identified in the United Kingdom, 21 in France, 4 in the Republic of Ireland, 3 in the United States (including the present case-patient), 2 in the Netherlands and 1 each in Canada, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Spain," the CDC said. "Of the 200 reported vCJD patients, all except 10 of them (including the present case-patient) had resided either in the United Kingdom (170 cases) for over six months during the 1980-1996 period of the large UK BSE outbreak or alternatively in France (20 cases)."
Meanwhile, University Hospital in London, Ontario cancelled all surgeries; most medical procedures and diverted ambulances Tuesday, fearing one of their patients may have CJD and contaminated instruments during his Nov. 30 brain surgery. Preliminary test results released Thursday turned out negative, but an independent lab in Ottawa must still confirm the results.
As CJD is not entirely eliminated by the sterilization process, the hospital has removed all instruments from its sterilization area and is still looking into how many patients might have come in contact with contaminated instruments. They say the number could be more than 1,500.