Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease transmitted by blood

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Is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease possibly transmitted through blood?

In the mid-1990s, there was increased reporting on the mostly fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (English Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease CJD). At that time, a new variant was discovered in Great Britain. This is considered the human counterpart to "mad cow disease" (BSE). According to the experts, at that time the patients were most likely infected with food containing BSE pathogens.

This very rare but always fatal brain disease is characterized by a rapid decline in mental and physical abilities. At the beginning of the disease there are usually psychological abnormalities such as depressive moods, anxiety, delusions and hallucinations, which later lead to severe movement disorders and dementia.

Currently, scientists from Germany, France and Spain have probably proven that CJD can be transmitted via blood and blood products and that pathogens must be present in the blood. For this purpose, the researchers administered samples from CJD patients to mice and it was shown that the disease was passed on to the animals. This suggests that, at least in theory, an infection between people through blood is possible, as can be seen from the summary of the study in the journal "Emerging Infectious Diseases".

“So far, none of the epidemiological studies has been able to demonstrate a connection. However, the findings must now be taken seriously and clarified exactly where and when the infectivity occurs in the blood, ”explains the neurologist Inga Zerr from Göttingen, who was involved in the research. In the past, the pathogen could not be detected in the blood. Only the transmissions through contaminated surgical instruments or through growth hormones that were produced from human brain glands could be identified as possible transmission routes.

The cause of the disease is pathologically altered prions, which are protein structures that lead to a spongy dissolution of the brain for as yet unexplained reasons. According to the National Reference Center, around 100 to 120 new cases of the so-called sporadic variant occur every year in Germany. Further investigations should clarify whether the transmission through blood is limited to mice. (fr)

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