This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare fatal brain disorder that usually occurs later in life and runs a rapid course. In the early stages of the disease, patients may have failing memory, behavior changes, impaired coordination, and vision problems. As CJD progresses, mental deterioration becomes severe, and they can have uncontrolled movements, blindness, weakness, and go into a coma. This condition often leads to death within a few weeks or months after symptoms begin. About 90 percent of patients do not survive for more than one year. In the United States, about 300 people are diagnosed with this condition each year. It occurs in approximately one in every one million people worldwide.
CJD can be very difficult to diagnose because it is similar to other forms of dementia. The only way to confirm the diagnosis is to test a small sample of brain tissue, which can be done by brain biopsy or autopsy. CJD is caused by the build up of abnormal prion proteins in the brain. For most patients, the reason for the abnormal prions is unknown (sporadic CJD). About 5 to 10 percent of cases are due to an inherited genetic mutation associated with CJD (familial CJD). This condition can also be acquired through contact with infected brain tissue (iatrogenic CJD) or consuming infected beef (variant CJD). There is no specific treatment for CJD, so the goal is to make a person as comfortable as possible.
For more information, visit GARD.