Woman on ‘PD Diary’ did not die of mad cow

Source of Article:  http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2903230

April 07, 2009

Woman on ‘PD Diary’ did not die of mad cow
Seoul prosecutors investigating a controversial episode of MBC’s “PD Diary” said an American woman who was reported as having died of a human form of mad cow disease actually died of an illness not caused by eating beef.

The segment aired last April and dealt with the dangers of contracting mad cow disease from U.S. beef. The investigators are looking into whether MBC deliberately exaggerated the risks.An investigator at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said he had obtained information from U.S. health officials confirming the cause of death of Aretha Vinson.

The controversial episode suggested Vinson might have died from a human variant of mad cow disease, or vCJD. Instead, the Seoul prosecutor found the actual cause was a syndrome called Wernicke’s encephalopathy. It is a brain disease caused by a vitamin B1 deficiency, not beef consumption.

The episode triggered months of candlelight vigils and protests demanding the Korean government renegotiate a deal on beef imports from the United States. The two sides eventually agreed on additional safeguards. A prosecution investigator said a translated transcript of the interview with Vinson’s mother showed a lengthy description of Aretha’s pains after gastrectomy, including dizziness and vomiting. It was after hearing the details, according to the investigator, that an MBC producer asked Robin if her daughter had traveled out of the United States or if she liked beef.

In March, prosecutors arrested a PD Diary producer accused of exaggerating mad cow disease risk of from U.S. beef.



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