Brazil investigating two possible situations of mad cow disease in humans

Brazilian authorities are investigating two possible situations of mad cow disease in humans in Rio de Janeiro state, a municipal health secretary said in a statement on Thursday, raising a red flag for meatpackers that already halted beef exports to China.

On 4 September Brazil confirmed two situations of what it called “atypical” mad cow disease in animals, triggering a suspension of beef exports to China under a standing bilateral agreement.

At the time, Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry stressed that the two situations identified in meat plants in the states of Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais had generated spontaneously and were not related to polluted satisfy, as in typical mad cow disease.

On Thursday, municipal health authorities in the city of Rio said federal biomedical institute Fiocruz had flagged two situations of “prion disease,” which can occur spontaneously in elderly patients or by eating polluted beef in younger populations.

READ | Two atypical situations of mad cow disease detected in Brazil

The municipal health authorities said the two situations identified in residents of the Rio suburbs had been referred to state health authorities, without giving the patients’ ages.

The new situations could further delay a Chinese decision on lifting the Brazilian beef ban, which has stranded dozens of shipments, rerouted many others and weighed on beef exports from Latin America’s largest country.

Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry, along with major Brazilian beef exporters JBS SA, Minerva SA and Marfrig Global Foods SA did not closest respond to requests for comment.

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