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Symptoms and Signs of Mad Cow Disease (Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob) Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis

Doctor's Notes on Mad Cow Disease (Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob) Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis

"Mad cow" disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) are types of infectious disease caused by proteins in the brain called prions that affect the brains of cattle. “Mad cow” disease occurs after people eat beef infected with the disease, but due to government oversight this form rarely occurs. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is more common and is due to genetics, infected surgical instruments or transplant tissues, and can also occur with no known cause.

Symptoms of “Mad cow" disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease include changes in attitude and behavior, muscle spasms, lack of muscle control, gradual uncoordinated movements, trouble standing and walking, weight loss despite having an appetite, and worsening problems with memory. In the early stages, people may also experience psychiatric symptoms including depression, withdrawal, anxiety, and trouble sleeping (insomnia). These prion diseases eventually lead to death.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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