Illness similar to mad cow disease claims life

A PERSON has died after ­contracting a rare illness similar to mad cow disease.

Queensland Health was ­notified of the confirmed case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) last month.

While the health service could not confirm the person's age, gender or where they were from due to privacy reasons, its online notifiable conditions ­report stated the patient presented to the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service.

There is no cure for CJD, a rapidly progressive and fatal neurodegenerative human prion disease.

A spokesman said the case was initially reported to Queensland Health in 2017, with additional testing taking several months.

He said there were 10 notifications in Queensland in 2017.

The disease is not to be confused with variant CJD - more commonly known as the mad cow disease - which was first recognised in 1996 in the United Kingdom.

There are three forms of the classical strain of CJD - Sporadic CJD is the most common, occurring in just one person in every million each year.

Iatrogenic CJD can be contracted during medical and surgical procedures, while familial CJD is genetic - accounting for 5-15 per cent of classical patients.

Early symptoms will range from confusion or disorientation and patients may have problems with walking.

While death can take up to two years, most people die within six months.

VCJD is thought to be contracted by eating meat from animals infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

However it has not been found in Australian livestock and there are no reported human cases in Australia to date.

There have been 209 cases of variant CJD diagnosed across the world between 1996 and September 2008 - 167 occurred in the UK and 23 in France.

As of 2008, only five of these were still alive.

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