The Centers for Disease Control to make diagnosis of suspected Tainan Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease case

The China Post staff and agencies

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is expected to make an announcement early next month whether a suspected case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) reported in Tainan, southern Taiwan is indeed CJD — the human derivation of mad cow disease.

The CDC said it needs further tests to determine if the patient, reported by the National Chengkung University (NCKU) Hospital, has contracted CJD, or mad-cow disease, CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Chih-hao siad.

“There has never been a case of contracting mad-cow disease from taking placenta shots. Taiwan allows placenta only in cosmetic products, not in shots. So if the patient took placenta shots, the shots were illegal,” Chou said.

The United Daily News, however, reported Thursday that the same patient, who has developed classic symptoms of CJD over the past 10 months and is currently in a vegetative state, could be suffering from a new variant of CJD (nv-CJD), as she had received placenta injections for a long time before seeking treatment at NCKU Hospital.

The CDC decided to call in its specialists Sept. 8, saying that it had received limited information about the patient’s medical history before and would like to re-examine the case, after the NCKU hospital provides it with more details of the patient. To date, a total of 175 classic CJD cases have been reported in Taiwan, with about a dozen cases being reported each year, according to Chou.

New variant CJD, however, is a human disease of the central nervous system that was first diagnosed in the United Kingdom in 1995.

Scientists have tentatively linked the disease to eating meat products from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly called mad cow disease.

Except for a few cases in other European nations with BSE, nv-CJD has been found almost exclusively in the United Kingdom.

It strikes younger people, often begins with psychiatric symptoms and progresses slowly.

Both diseases are brain-wasting, eventually destroying the victims’ motorskills and coordination, and both show a characteristic spongelike appearance in the victims’ brains when autopsied. Botharefatal and transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Sellers of illegal medicine can face a maximum NT$140,000 (US$4,000 fine or a 10-year prison sentence.

If the medicine has resulted in someone’s death, the seller can face life sentence.

According to the hospital, a patient developed signs of mad-cow disease 10 months ago and has now lost all physical functions except the eyes.

So far, the causes of classic CJD infection are unknown and there is no exact cure to it, but classic CJD has always been around.

It is very rare, striking about one person per million every year worldwide. Mostly the cases are “sporadic, “ meaning they have no known cause.

A few have been linked to organ transplants from infected people, or to genetics. Many victims who died from classic CJD did not contract it from contaminated meat. Classic CJD strikes people 50 or older, progresses rapidly and has only physical symptoms.