Second case of brain-wasting CJD detected in Netherlands

22nd June 2006, Comments 0 comments

22 June 2006, AMSTERDAM — A new case of the brain-wasting Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) has been detected in the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said on Thursday.

22 June 2006

AMSTERDAM — A new case of the brain-wasting Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) has been detected in the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said on Thursday.

Experts from the CJD centre at Erasmus Medical Centre (EMC) in Rotterdam and the European CJD centre in Scotland based their provisional diagnosis on studies of a brain scan and tissue taken from the patient.

The person, who has not been publicly named, is thought to have contracted vCJD by eating meat from the same infected batch of beef as the Utrecht woman who died last year.   

The 26-year-old woman from Utrecht was the first person diagnosed with the human form of the BSE (Mad Cow Disease) in the Netherlands. 

The condition is difficult to diagnose accurately until post-mortem tests are carried out. Doctors are powerless to reverse the illness and can only help ease the patient's pain. A person with vCJD usually dies within 18 months. 

Beef in the Netherlands is believed to be free of the infection. "That is because 2001 cattle suspected of infection are checked for BSE once they are slaughtered," the RIVM said.

And since 1997 the potentially most infectious organs, brain and the spinal cord are kept from entering the food chain and destroyed to prevent transmission.

The illness can also be transmitted via blood transfusions and medical instruments that have not been properly cleaned. But an investigation has ruled these out as the potential cause in the new case.

Experts believe the Utrecht woman contracted the disease 20 years ago by eating infected beef. The disease vCJD is characterised by the sponge-like degeneration of the victim's brain, but it is also difficult to diagnose. It can take years for a diagnosis to be made.

Professor Cock van Duijn of the EMC said it was likely at least two other cases of vCJD would come to light in the Netherlands over the next few years.

A patient first develops psychiatric symptoms, such as feelings of angst and hallucinations, followed by neurological problems such as balance and movement disorders. The patient eventually suffers mental collapse.
The chance that the human from of Mad Cow Disease would appear in the Netherlands was not large because relatively few cattle (77) have been detected here with the illness.

However, doctors have not ruled out the possibility that more people will be diagnosed with vCJD.

The illness has previously appeared in Britain, Ireland, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and the US. There have been 170 deaths, 155 of them in Britain.

Several distinctions are made between vCJD, which was first reported in 1996, and the more common sporadic CJD.

One widely-supported view is that vCJD results from the transmission of infection from BSE in cattle to humans via infected food.

The average age of onset of vCJD is 27 compared to middle age or older for sporadic CJD, a factor that may support the food contamination theory.

Sporadic CJD is the most common form of CJD, occurring on average in one in every million people and is found all over the world.

Although the causes of sporadic CJD are uncertain, one theory suggests that the normal prion protein in the brain undergoes a spontaneous change to the abnormal form, resulting in disease.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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