The National Academies

The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a brain disorder caused by prionsproteins that induce abnormal folding of normal brain proteins. About 85 percent of CJD cases occur sporadically and have unknown origins. The remaining cases are either familial (caused by inherited gene mutations) or iatrogenic (caused by contaminated instruments used during medical treatments or by transplants from infected organ donors). Most CJD cases are seen in people over the age of 50. Like most prion diseases, degeneration occurs rapidly after the onset of the disease and death usually occurs within 1 year. A variant of CJD (vCJD) affects people at a younger age, with the median age of death being 28 years. The most likely cause of vCJD is exposure, probably through contaminated food, to bovine spongiform encephalopathy—a disease of cattle commonly called “mad cow disease.” 
 
Symptoms
CJD patients undergo rapid personality changes and dementia. Neurological signs, such as unsteadiness and involuntary movement, appear early on. Symptoms vary slightly in vCJD, which is characterized by depression and occasional psychosis. Neurological symptoms do not develop until later in the disease progression. Both variations of the disease are accompanied by symptoms such as blurred vision, muscle stiffness, sleepiness, speech impairment, confusion, and lack of coordination.
 
Treatment
Currently there is no cure for CJD. Certain medications, such as interleukins, can slow the disease’s progression. As with other cases of dementia, counseling and behavior modification may help patients control dangerous or inappropriate behaviors.
 
Prevention
There is no known way to prevent sporadic or familial CJD. Hospitals have specific procedures and regulations regarding transfusions and equipment usage in order to prevent iatrogenic CJD. Strict regulations on food supply, including regulation of animal feed and good surveillance systems for tracking cattle health, can prevent the spread of vCJD.
 

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What do you know about infectious disease?

Public health officials can identify the outbreak of disease by monitoring certain patterns of behavior through syndromic surveillance. Which of the following is one of the signs used to identify a disease outbreak using this system?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In syndromic surveillance, all of the above are used in addition to other patterns that suggest an outbreak. Despite the emergence of this innovative surveillance method, most surveillance still depends on tracking reported infections. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In syndromic surveillance, all of the above are used in addition to other patterns that suggest an outbreak. Despite the emergence of this innovative surveillance method, most surveillance still depends on tracking reported infections. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In syndromic surveillance, all of the above are used in addition to other patterns that suggest an outbreak. Despite the emergence of this innovative surveillance method, most surveillance still depends on tracking reported infections. 

  • Correct!

    In syndromic surveillance, all of the above are used in addition to other patterns that suggest an outbreak. Despite the emergence of this innovative surveillance method, most surveillance still depends on tracking reported infections. 

Infectious Disease Defined

Zoonoses

Any disease that can be transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans.

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