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9 Cases of Brain-Wasting Disease in Idaho

Suspected Cluster of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) cases. This sporadic prion disease is similar to vCJD, variant CJD, which is contracted by eating beef infected with the agent of ‘mad cow disease’ (BSE; bovine spongiform encephalopathy), but the etiology is unknown. It is not clear if this is really a ‘cluster’; while the diagnosis can only be definitively established via autopsy, only five of the nine suspect cases were autopsied because of a reluctance to handle affected brain tissue, and the final verdict is not in from tests of the tissue of those who did have the autopsies. It is not clear to me how geographically close the cases were and it would certainly be interesting to see what epidemiological features they shared, if any. Could it be a statistical anomaly?

“Normally, sporadic CJD only strikes about one person in a million each year, with an average of just 300 cases per year in the United States, or just over one case a year in Idaho. Over the past two decades, the most cases reported in Idaho in a single year has been three.” (Yahoo! News)