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Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease - Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

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Summary about Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a neurodegenerative condition. It occurs rarely but has severe effects on your brain.
It gradually destroys your brain cells and causes small holes to form in your brain. People who have this experience changes in speech and gait, difficulty in controlling body movements and dementia. This disease is not curable, and a person dies within one year when the symptoms appear. There are several types of CJD. It can be transmitted, inherited and may develop sporadically, with no identifiable pattern. Classic CJD affects people over 60, while variant CJD affects the younger generation.

Symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

In classic and variant CJD, dementia results in the deterioration of your body and mind. Symptoms of CJD are:

  • loss of coordination or balance
  • a decreased ability to reason, think, communicate and maintain self-care
  • changes in behavior and personality, and they are more observed in variant CJD
  • convulsions
  • confusion or disorientation
  • muscle stiffness and twitching
  • difficulty talking
  • sleepiness
  • blindness

Causes of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Whether it is a Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or its variants, both belong to a broad group of animal and human diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. This name is derived from the spongy holes in the affected brain tissue and is only seen through a microscope. The leading cause of this disease is abnormal versions of a protein known as a prion. Usually, our body produces these proteins and is not harmful. But when there is any abnormality, they become infectious and may harm your biological processes.

Risk Factors of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

This disease occurs with no known reasons in most cases, so risk factors may not be identified. However, there are a few factors believed to be associated with CJD:

  • Age -  Sporadic form of this disease develop around age 60. Familial CJD occurs a little earlier, while variant CJD affects people at a younger age, in the late 20s.
  • Genetics - Patients with familial CJD have a genetic mutation that causes this disease. To develop this type of CJD, a child should have a mutated gene copy inherited from either parent. For those who have a mutation, the chance to pass it to the children is 50%.
  • When Exposed to contaminated tissue - People who have received an infected manufactured growth hormone or transplanted of infected tissues covering the brain are at risk of getting iatrogenic CJD.
  • The risk of getting variant CJD by eating contaminated beef is too low.

Preventive Measures of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Scientists are investigating how this disease affects your brain to develop treatments. To avoid Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, most countries have given strict guidelines to manage infected cows.

Preventive measures include:

  • not accepting cornea from people who are at risk of CJD
  • sterilizing all the medical equipment

Anyone who is taking care of a patient with CJD must follow guidelines including:

  • wearing gloves while handling blood, tissue or fluid
  • covering cuts, open wounds and abrasions on the skin
  • wearing a disposable clothing
  • sterilizing all the equipment that is used on or even near the person
  • utilizing eye protection, face shield, or a mask
  • using disposable bedclothes
  • soaking linens in the chlorine solution for 1 hour at least

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