mad cow disease

Specialties Disease


My aunt passed away from CJD in october. I was under the impression that it was only transmitted via neural tissue or infected meat. Now I have heard that it can be contracted much easier, say through lung secretions. Is this true? Also, does every case of CJD get repoted to the CDC and how is it diagnosed if not through a brain biopsy?

My mother and sister spent MANY days giving my aunt direct care in hospice prior to her death, and now should I worry about their health?


463 Posts

Sorry to hear about your aunt.

I believe they are just starting to understand more about prion diseases. My biochem prof would not even discuss, but others would.

I have not heard about being passed through lung secrections.

I do know that it takes months-years to develop, at least from what I have read, depending on the type.

You might ask the dr. if her case was reported to the CDC. Also, visit their website for more information - I'm not sure if CJD is required reportable.

CJD is kind of a "catch-all" for prion disease - it includes familial, unknown, and bovine origin, to name a few.

Wish I had more info for you.


Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho.

I recently saw a report on CJD which suggests that some of the Alzheimers disease that we are seeing now may in fact be CJD. Apparently it is not able to be actually dx until after death when autopsies will show brain tissue differentiations and microscopic identification.


6 Posts


First of all, there are 2 kinds of CJD--classic and new variant. The classic form can be spread via surgical instruments that come into contact with infected CNS tissue. The best evidence indicates it can't be spread via lung secretions or casual contact. New variant CJD can be spread via infected meat from cattle, and possibly blood transfusions. There is no evidence this form can be spread via lung secretions or through casual contact. No cases of new variant CJD have been acquired in the U-S--most are in Britain.


35 Posts

Specializes in rehab, ortho, cardiac.

sorry to hear about your aunt...

as far as what i have read and learned, cjd is a tse caused by prions. i remember reading that it can be acquired through the consumption of infected cns tissue, but not meat, and as well as through genetic mutations. there are two types, one is cjd and the other is a variant called vcjd. usually, cjd affects the older population(>45 years old), while vcjd occurs the younger population. diagnosis would consist of an ecg to detect for abnormal electrical patterns and prolly csf. now i dont know if the cdc will get a report, but i believe they should cause even though cjd is the most common tse, it is a very rare disease to acquire. this is all i can remember from my biochem class and i cant seem to find my book, hope this info helps you out.


35 Posts

Specializes in rehab, ortho, cardiac.

i looked it up on wikipedia and i got a little more information(very good info).

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