MIAMI, Florida, June 22, 2004 (ENS): A 25 year old Florida
woman who was diagnosed with the United States' first
documented case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
(vCJD), died of the disease on Sunday. Invariably fatal,
the brain wasting disease is the human form of mad cow
disease and is contracted by eating infected beef, or
possibly through blood transfusions.
In April 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
announced that Charlene Singh was the first vCJD found
in the United States. Singh was born in England in 1979;
her family moved to the United States in 1992. She is
believed to have gotten the disease when she lived in
Her condition only began to appear after she graduated
from the University of Miami in May 2001 with a business
degree. After her diagnosis, she was given three months
Through their research on the Internet, Singh's family
learned about the successful treatment of vCJD in the
UK with a drug called quinacrine, commonly used to treat
psychosis. Singh tried the drug for three months, but
it had no noticeable effect.
More successful was hyperbaric therapy, which she was
first given in October 2002, and received ever since.
She was put in a pressurized oxygen chamber four times
a week, which helped to increase the oxygen supply to
Charlene's father Patrick Singh said his family no
longer eats meat. His two other children have not contracted
the brain disease.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, known as mad cow
disease, surfaced in the UK in 1986 and has affected
nearly 200,000 cattle. Fewer and fewer cows are infected
today, but now there is an outbreak of human Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease, resulting from the consumption of beef products
contaminated by infected bovine central nervous system
Averaging 10 to 15 cases a year in the UK since its
first appearance in 1994, the future magnitude and geographic
distribution of vCJD cannot yet be predicted, Florida
health officials say.