Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

(Human Mad Cow Disease; vCJD)

Definition

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a fatal type of prion disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a prion disease that affects cows. There is evidence that this illness can be transmitted to humans, producing vCJD. This illness is often called mad cow disease.

Causes

It is generally believed that vCJD is caused by infectious proteins called prions. Prions are normal proteins in the body. If these prions fold up in a different way than normal, they may transform into the protein that causes the illness. The build-up of abnormal prions may be linked to the brain damage associated with vCJD.
The Nervous System
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Variant CJD is more common in younger people. Factors that may increase your chance of getting vCJD include exposure to prion-containing tissue. This may occur from:
  • Eating beef from infected cows
  • Receiving a blood transfusion from someone who had the disease

Symptoms

After you are exposed, it can take up to 20 years until symptoms develop. When symptoms develop, they usually follow these three phases:
  • Early phase (0 to 6 months)— psychiatric symptoms, such as depression , anxiety , withdrawal, memory problems, and difficulty pronouncing words
  • Middle phase—neurologic symptoms predominate, such as abnormal gait, problems with coordination, muscle jerks and stiffness, and impaired speech
  • Late phase—mute, immobility

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
  • Blood tests
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) to record the electical activity of the brain
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
  • Brain biopsy
  • Tonsillar biopsy
Imaging tests take pictures inside your body structures. Imaging tests may include: In many cases, final diagnosis requires an autopsy after death.

leave comments
0
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals


Early Peanut Consumption Associated with Lower Risk of Peanut Allergy in High Risk Children
March 2015

Many medical groups felt that early exposure to certain foods like peanuts increased a child's risk of developing food allergies. However, newer research including this trial suggest that early exposure may actually decrease the risk of developing food allergies.

dot separator
previous editions

Breastfeeding May Decrease the Risk of Childhood Obesity
February 2015

Tonsillectomy May Reduce Number of Sore Throat Days in Children
February 2015

Research Review Finds Little Support for Nearly Half of Medical Talk Show Recommendations
January 2015

dashed separator

Advertisement

Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »

 

Advertisement

Advertisement

DiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnoratiFacebook