A new case of vCJD, or variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease has been reported in France.
The French press is not yet reporting the location of the suspected case. This latest case would bring the total case count to 27, since vCJD was first identified in France in 1996. The current death count is 25. Of the previous cases, eight were located in the Île-de-France region and fifteen were women.
The French press is, however, reporting increased worry, since this is the second case of vCJD to be reported in two months.
Variant Creutzfeld Jakob disease is believed to be the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as “mad cow disease.” CJD, in all its forms, is extremely rare and is thought to be caused by the abnormal folding of a protein (or, a prion). The folds cause the proteins to act differently than they are supposed to. As a result, brain function is impaired. Some symptoms are dementia, lack of coordination, muscle twitching, speech impairment, and hallucinations.
Currently, there is no treatment for vCJD.
There are two types of CJD: classic and variant. Classic CJD can then be separated into sporadic and familial. Most cases are sporadic, which means that they occur for no known reason. Familial cases occur when abnormal prions are inherited genetically. Variant CJD, however, can only be acquired through exposure to contaminated products (via ingestion or surgery for example).