Two people in the same province in Italy died of mad cow disease this week, and authorities are investigating to see whether it was caused by eating infected meat or some other, less worrisome cause.
According to The Local, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), or mad cow disease, has many variants, and only one variety is caused by eating infected meat. Some varieties are just genetic. This week two people died of the disease in the Salento area of southern Italy, and there have been four cases in that area already this year.
The most recent case was reportedly a 67-year-old man, who was diagnosed in July after mysteriously fainting. Before that, a 49-year-old woman in a nearby town also died of CJD, but local authorities say there is no reason for people to worry about infected meat in the area just yet.
“Until today, no cases of the disease caused by eating infected meat have been recorded in Salento,” said Giovanni Gorgoni of the local health authority. “The strict protocols for tracing and checking meat that were brought in following the epidemic in Britain reassure us that this will continue to be the case.”
Tissue samples from the most recent victims have been sent for analysis. Scientists will determine what variety of CJD they died of, which will let everyone know whether or not it is the variety contracted by eating infected meat.