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Tuesday, November 23, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Three Men Didn't Die From Mad-Cow Disease

Seattle Times Eastside Bureau

KING COUNTY

The mysterious deaths of three King County men were not caused by a brain disorder linked to so-called mad-cow disease, health officials say.

Matthew Look, 42, of Issaquah, William Lapp, 41, of Carnation and Gary Hollinquest, 43, of Kent had all suffered symptoms commonly associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which causes memory loss, dementia, loss of motor function and eventually death.

In 1996 a variant of the disease was identified in England and linked to mad-cow disease, possibly through beef consumption. At least 47 cases of the new variant have been documented in Europe, but none in the United States.

The older strain generally strikes people over 55. The new strain can strike younger people, so the three men's deaths raised the interest of health officials. But University of Washington scientists proved last month that none of the three men died of the new strain.

"We were not surprised by these results," said Dr. Ermias Belay, an epidemiologist with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cause of death for Lapp, who died in May, and Hollinquest was listed as the old form of CJD. John Kobayashi, senior epidemiologist with the state Health Department, said Look's cause of death last year hadn't been determined.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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