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vCJD (Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease)

Update: Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in a U.K. Citizen Who Had Temporarily Resided in Texas, 2001-2005

In November 2005, the U.K. National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh, Scotland notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about a probable variant CJD diagnosis in a 30-year-old man who resided in Texas during 2001-2005. The patient had onset of symptoms in early 2005 while in Texas. He then returned to the United Kingdom, where his illness progressed, and a diagnosis of variant CJD was made. This diagnosis was confirmed neuropathologically after the patient's death.

The variant CJD diagnosis was initially based on typical clinical manifestations of the disease and demonstration of the characteristic “pulvinar sign” on magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. No biopsy tissues are available for pathologic confirmation of the diagnosis. While living in the United States, the patient had no history of hospitalization, of having invasive medical procedures, or of donation or receipt of blood and blood products.

The patient almost certainly acquired the disease in the United Kingdom. He was born in the United Kingdom and lived there throughout the defined period of risk (1980-1996) for human exposure to the agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as “mad cow” disease). His stay in the United States was too brief relative to what is known about the incubation period for variant CJD. For additional information about the incubation period for variant CJD, see Belay ED, Sejvar JJ, Shieh WJ, et al. “Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Death, United States,” Emerg Infect Dis 2005; available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol11no09/05-0371.htm.

By convention, variant CJD cases are ascribed to the country of initial symptom onset, regardless of where the exposure occurred. Since variant CJD was first reported in 1996, a total of 195 patients with this disease from 11 countries have been identified. As of August 11, 2006, variant CJD cases have been reported from the following countries: 162 from the United Kingdom, 20 from France, 4 from Ireland, 2 from the United States (including the current case), and one each from Canada, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and Spain. Similar to the two U.S. cases, two of the four cases from Ireland and the single cases from Canada and Japan were likely exposed to the BSE agent while residing in the United Kingdom.One of the 20 French cases may also have been infected in the United Kingdom. Strong scientific evidence indicates that variant CJD results from the transmission to humans of the agent that causes BSE in cattle. The BSE outbreak in cattle that was first detected in the 1980s in the United Kingdom has spread to many other European countries, and cases in cattle have been identified outside of Europe, in Canada, Israel, Japan, and the United States.

Date: August 23, 2010
Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology (DHCPP)
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Prion Diseases

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

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