Guyanese dies from mad cow disease in US By Vishnu Bisram
Stabroek News
July 4, 2004

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A Guyanese- American woman in Florida is reported to have succumbed to mad sow disease last week.

According to a report in this week's Indian Express Newspaper in New York, Charlene Singh, 25, who came to Florida in 1992, is the first person to die of mad cow disease in the US.

The country was in the grip of a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow crisis late last year but the situation was quickly brought under control and no one died.

The Indian Express says Singh was diagnosed with the human form of the disease (called Creutzfeldt Jakob) two years ago but her identity was not disclosed because of the nature of the illness and her death.

Singh reportedly contracted the disease years ago when she ate contaminated beef in England. Her parents, Patrick Singh and Alison believe "she consumed the contaminated meat in 1992", the paper quoted them as saying while living in England.
Charlene Singh, pictured in December 2003

The paper reported that the disease killed over 140 people in England and at least ten others in other parts of Europe. Almost all of the cases originated in England in the 1980s and 1990s.

Singh finished high school with honours in Miramar County in Florida and received a scholarship to study at the University of Miami where she graduated in Business Management in 2001. After earning her degree, Charlene experienced the first symptoms of mad cow which included irritability, forgetfulness and uncharacteristic outbursts of anger. Doctors initially diagnosed her illness as depression. But as her body began to deteriorate rapidly, doctors made the determination that she had a more serious problem.

Singh was placed in a high pressure oxygen chamber (called hyperbaric therapy) four times a week which helped to increase oxygen supply to her blood that helped to prolong her life until she succumbed last week. In addition to her parents, Singh is survived by a brother, Dave, and a sister, Lisa, and her grandparents.