- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

From combined dispatches

MIAMI — A Florida woman diagnosed with the only known case in the United States of the human form of mad cow disease has died, said Broward County Chief Medical Examiner Joshua Perper.

Charlene Singh died Sunday at her home in Fort Lauderdale after being ill for several years with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is incurable. Her family believes she contracted it by eating contaminated meat in Britain more than a decade ago.

“I miss her smile, I miss her voice,” Miss Singh’s mother, Alison Singh, told local reporters. “It’s like a nightmare.”

The brain-wasting illness is thought to be caused by eating processed food made from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.

Miss Singh, 25, was born and raised in Britain, where an outbreak of the disease affected tens of thousands of cattle in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the more than 150 cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob worldwide have been reported in Britain.

She moved to Florida with her family in 1992 and became ill in late 2001.

A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Christine Pearson, said the agency would sent a team of experts to Florida for meetings with health officials.

The CDC has monitored Miss Singh’s case since it was confirmed in 2002.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a progressive neurological disorder of cattle. Up to November 2003, more than 183,000 cases of the disease were confirmed in Britain in more than 35,000 herds, according to CDC figures.

Miss Singh’s was the only case reported to the CDC in the United States. In December, BSE was diagnosed in an adult Holstein cow from Washington state that had probably been imported from Canada two years earlier.

The government expanded its mad-cow screening program June 1 to include a high-risk population of 446,000 cattle.

Investigators are trying to determine whether there are more cases of the disease in the country.

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