A Kansas man who died in January had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is related to mad cow disease, his brother told The Wichita Eagle.
Frank Rebarchek of Scott City, Kan. said the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center had confirmed that the rare disease, which turns brain tissue spongy, caused the death of his brother Milton Eugene Rebarchek of Monument, Kan.
"They don't know where he got it, but they're trying to figure it out," he told the newspaper.
The disease's incubation period is years, even decades, and its presence can't be confirmed until brain tissue is tested. It is always fatal, the report said.
Milton Eugene Rebarchek had worked at a packing plant about 15 or 20 years ago, his brother said. One variation of the disease is mad cow disease. The human form has never been seen in the United States in someone who hadn't had exposure elsewhere, according to the report.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob can come from blood transfusions and can be hereditary in very rare cases. On average, 250 to 300 cases are reported in the United States.