The Italian Health Ministry reported Friday a likely case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of mad cow disease.
Since national records were established in 1993, Italy has had only one known case of the disease, in 2002, the ministry said.
It said the likely new case was believed to have been infected before the use of animal and bone meal in animal feed was banned in December 2000.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a fatal brain disease in cattle which first emerged in Britain in the 1980s.
It is believed that humans can contract a fatal variation of it by eating infected parts of animals suffering from the disease.