Ireland is reporting its first case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) at a Dublin Hospital.
The man in his early 20's was admitted to hospital as a suspected case 4 weeks ago. Recent tests on the patient's tonsils have detected the presence of the protein which causes vCJD. The hospital advised that the man may be offered an experimental treatment which may prolong his life. The man has never undergone surgery or transfusion which almost certainly points to infection from beef consumption.
The Irish Minister for Health, Tánaiste Mary Harney, released the following statement.
" I have learned with deep regret that the diagnosis of a young male patient in a Dublin hospital, confirms that he is suffering from variant CJD.
My thoughts and prayers are with the patient himself, his family and friends who are attempting to cope with this difficult situation.
Once again, I would appeal to the media to continue to respect the privacy of the patient and his family at this time, and to thank them for their co-operation in this regard to date."
This situation does not represent a threat to those who have been in contact with this person, since variant CJD is not contagious through personal contact. For example, there is no evidence that variant CJD can be spread through touching or kissing a person with the disease. Similarly, health care workers who have provided usual care to a patient with variant CJD do not have an increased risk of acquiring the disease from that patient.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a rare and fatal human neurodegenerative condition. As with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, vCJD is classified as a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) because of characteristic spongy degeneration of the brain and its ability to be transmitted. vCJD is a new disease that was first described in March 1996.