Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease is a rare degenerative brain disorder that affects about one person in every one million cases worldwide per year. In the United States, there are roughly 200 reported cases of CJD every year. CJD is fatal, and the brain degeneration that takes place comes extremely quickly, and without warning.
CJD typically affects people later in life, and the onset of symptoms typically occurs around age 60 or later, with about 95 percent of those with symptoms dying within their first year after diagnosis. People may have failing memory, behavioral changes, significant lack of coordination, and visual disturbances when dealing with CJD.
CJD has multiple different causes, including sporadic, hereditary, and acquired. In sporadic CJD, the person is afflicted with the disease even though there are no known causes or risk factors. This is the most common type of CJD, and happens to about 85 percent of patients who deal with the disorder.
In hereditary CJD, the person typically has a genetic and family history of the disease, and traits are passed down from person to person through a genetic mutation. And finally, in acquired CJD, a person is transmitted the disease through exposure to certain brain or nervous system tissue, though admittedly, this is an extremely rare way to catch CJD and has only happened several times in history.
CJD is characterized by dementia that progresses rapidly, and individuals quickly begin to experience significant coordination problems, personality changes, and other issues that include impaired memory and impaired vision. Typically, symptoms also include dementia, insomnia, and unusual sensations in the body.
Eventually, people with CJD see their conditions worsened, and they lose the ability to speak, move, and more, and eventually fall into a coma-like state. They may also go blind and develop bizarre and involuntary muscle jerks through CJD’s rapid and sudden progression throughout the body.
Some symptoms of CJD are seen similar to symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other issues that affect older people, but it should be noted that CJD symptoms come on much quicker and much more intensely. People who deal with CJD are typically dead within a calendar year of acquiring the disease, as there is no known cure or ability to mitigate symptoms and improve the lives of those involved.
CJD can be a very difficult disease to be involved with, but at the very least, it affects very, very few people over time and thus is quite unlikely that it will affect you or your family in any way.