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Friday March 23 8:19 PM ET

Mad Cow-Like Disease Kills Two

By P. SOLOMON BANDA, Associated Press Writer

DENVER (AP) - Two patients died at a Colorado hospital this year from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an illness similar to mad cow disease, and there is concern other patients may have been exposed, a hospital spokeswoman said Friday.

It wasn't immediately known when the patients died at Exempla St. Joseph Hospital, spokeswoman Kathleen Ferguson said. But she said at least six other patients may have been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob through surgical instruments used while treating the two patients who died.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, attacks the brain, killing cells and creating gaps in tissue. The brain takes on a sponge-like appearance.

Early symptoms include memory problems, mood changes and lack of coordination. The disease progresses to shakiness and dementia. Victims are eventually unable to move or speak.

A separate form of the disease has been linked directly to eating meat from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. Nearly 100 people in Europe have died of the disease since 1995.

About two cases of CJD are reported in Colorado every year, said Cindy Parmenter of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

``We had four in 2000 and two or three in years before that,'' Parmenter said. ``It usually happens in people 60 and older. It's not totally unusual.''

-- Swissrose (, March 23, 2001

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