The Centers for Disease Control is confirming the fourth-ever American death from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a degenerative brain disorder linked to mad cow disease. But before you get worried, know that the state of Texas finds "no Texas public health concerns or threats associated with this case." The Texas patient involved is thought to have acquired the disease from travel abroad in either Europe or the Middle East—as was the true in the previous three US cases of vCJD, Modern Farmer reports.
Experts think variant vCJD is the result of consuming the products of cows infected with mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It's not clear exactly how or where the Texan got the disease, and the CDC is investigating. But Germany and Brazil have both seen new cases in cows this year, Modern Farmer notes. There have been more than 220 cases of the vCJD worldwide, the CDC notes, mostly in the UK and France. (Read more mad cow disease stories.)