State Health Department says no mad cow disease in Pike County

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    By John Balch
    Nashville News-Leader

    Reports of a Pike County man allegedly dying earlier this month from the effects of “mad cow disease” have been denied by the Arkansas Department of Health.

    “There are no known cases of mad cow disease in humans in the state,” Meg Mirivel, public information officer with the ADH, told The Nashville News-Leader last week as the reports began circulating.

    Mirivel added that there are also no reported cases of the disease in humans anywhere in the United States.

    The Delight man, who passed away in a hospital, likely died from a similar disease, possibly Creutzfeld-Jacob disease, which Mirivel said is similar to mad cow disease but is caused by prions and not by eating diseased beef.

    According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “prion disease represents a group of conditions that affect the nervous system in humans and animals. In people, these conditions impair brain function, causing changes in memory, personality, and behavior; a decline in intellectual function (dementia); and abnormal movements, particularly difficulty with coordinating movements (ataxia). The signs and symptoms of prion disease typically begin in adulthood and worsen with time, leading to death within a few months to several years.”

    Accompanying the reports of mad cow disease being the cause of the man’s death, a report began circulating that the Center of Disease Control and Prevention had scheduled a visit to Pike County.

    Mirivel also denied this claim and said the ADH would certainly have been notified if such a visit had been scheduled.