Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a type of prion disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy 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.”
Prion diseases are a unique form of infectious diseases. The disease is not produced by a bacterial or viral infection; instead, the illness is related to progressive accumulation of prions (infectious protein particles). The central nervous system is progressively damaged as these prions accumulate.
—tests that produces images showing the amount of functional activity in the tissue; used to differentiate vCJD from other diseases
—removal of a sample of tonsil tissue to test to confirm vCJD
Blood tests and cerebrospinal fluid analysis—may be used to distinguish this disease from other disease, such as
In many cases, final diagnosis requires
and pathological studies.
Currently, there is no cure for vCJD. Treatment is primarily supportive, maximizing function and minimizing discomfort.
About 200 worldwide cases of vCJD have occurred to date, most of which were associated with beef consumption in the United Kingdom. There is a great deal of controversy regarding safety of US beef. Two cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy have been detected in the US. But, no cases of vCJD have been attributed to eating US beef.
To minimize risk, it is generally recommended that you avoid beef products, particularly processed meat (eg, sausage and hotdogs), or beef items containing brain, spinal cord, or bone marrow.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a