AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A third person has died in the Netherlands from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of mad cow disease, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said.
The RIVM said late on Monday the patient died at the beginning of January and investigations were underway to assess whether other people could have been infected, although the chances were small.
Two other deaths from the human form of the disease were confirmed in the Netherlands in 2005 and 2006.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a fatal brain disease in cattle, and it is believed humans can contract a fatal variation of it by eating infected parts of animals suffering from the disease.
It first emerged in Britain in the 1980s and has been found in herds in several European and other countries. Scientists believe it is transmitted through infected meat and bone meal fed to cattle.
The European Union banned the use of animal and bone meal in animal feed in 2001 in order to prevent the spread of mad cow disease and vCJD.
Reporting by Catherine Hornby