There's nothing very pleasant about mad cow disease. It's a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is a progressive and fatal neurological disease. It causes loss of motor control and dementia. C.J.D. is caused by prions, protein particles that, unfortunately, survive sterilization techniques and so is sometimes associated with surgical procedures. Something on the order of 300 people, or fewer, are thought to be afflicted with C.J.D. in this country annually. None of the cases in ...

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