Man died of mad cow-like disease after eating squirrel's brain

Eating a squirrel's brain may have been what led to a 61-year-old man's death

Eating a squirrel's brain may have been what led to a 61-year-old man's death

A new report on the 2015 death in Rochester, New York, finds that he may have suffered from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a rare brain condition you've likely heard of as "mad cow disease".

The patient was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob, which is a degenerative disease of the brain, which triggers the destruction of cells.

Only a few hundred cases of vCJD have ever been reported, a lot of them in the United Kingdom; just four cases have ever been confirmed in the US. The man was, as Live Science reports, an avid hunter and may have inadvertently mixed some contaminated brain matter from a squirrel he had killed with the rest of the meal.

"It's unclear if the man consumed the entire squirrel brain or just squirrel meat that was contaminated with parts of squirrel brain", the report's lead author said.

The non-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is also rare, with only about 350 cases per year in the United States, according to the NIH. While it often occurs with no known cause, it can be hereditary in people who have a family history of the disease or contracted when the brain or nervous system is exposed to the disease. Prions exist naturally in the brain and are seemingly being harmless to us. Initial signs and symptoms typically include personality changes, anxiety, depression, memory loss, impaired thinking, blurred vision or blindness, insomnia, difficulty in speaking, difficulty in swallowing and, sudden, jerky movements or seizures. There is no treatment or cure and no known way to prevent sporadic CJD.

Most people who contract it only live around a year.

An MRI examination and a test of his cerebrospinal fluid revealed the proteins that usually trigger "mad cow disease".

His case was one of several detailed by doctors from Rochester Regional Health, a major hospital network in the city.

The team is now working to obtain the patient's medical records to see if a coroner confirmed CJD upon his death. By publishing their preliminary case report, they also hope to raise doctors' awareness of CJD, noting that it took an average of two weeks to diagnose or rule out the disease in their cases.

Recommended News

  • Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia: Dimon, Schwarzman, Fink wanted conference delay

    Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia: Dimon, Schwarzman, Fink wanted conference delay

    Unconfirmed reports said that Khashoggi was likely killed inside the compound, which were denied by Saudi officials as "baseless". Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Gulf states in a military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

    Mysterious polio-like illness baffles medical experts while frightening parents

    States are not required to provide this information to the CDC but have been voluntarily reporting their data. MA has seen a total of 16 confirmed cases in children since 2014, plus one probable case in an adult.
    Steelers still haven't heard from Bell

    Steelers still haven't heard from Bell

    Sources told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler earlier this month that Bell meant to report to the Steelers during the Week 7-8 time frame. Despite that statement, as of Sunday, Bell had still not been in touch with team officials or players, sources told Schefter.
  • Attack on Crimean Technical College Kills 18

    Attack on Crimean Technical College Kills 18

    Of those injured in the attack, a number remained in a "very serious condition", Russian health minister Veronika Skvortsova said. A student at the college who asked not to be named said: "I was in a class when I heard shooting on the first floor".
    Ariana Grande Instagram selfie spree at Wicked 15 after Pete split

    Ariana Grande Instagram selfie spree at Wicked 15 after Pete split

    Grande has revealed her struggles with anxiety, which have become more acute since the death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller . Since Ariana was the one who purchased Piggy Smalls, maybe Pete can just have visitation rights when they're friends again.
    European Union  force Google to unbundle, license Android application suite to competitors

    European Union force Google to unbundle, license Android application suite to competitors

    These new licensing options will come into effect on October 29, 2018, for all new smartphones and tablets launched in the EEA. The biggie here is the Google Play Store , something we expect many device makers will want to keep on their devices.
  • Zach Davies replaces Gio Gonzalez on the Brewers roster

    Zach Davies replaces Gio Gonzalez on the Brewers roster

    Another noteworthy change is Max Muncy starting at second base for the first time since September 11. That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am.
    Bomb rocks high school in Crimea, killing 10

    Bomb rocks high school in Crimea, killing 10

    Kerch is the landing point and namesake of a bridge that opened earlier this year to connect Crimea to Russian Federation . The committee's spokeswoman, Svetlana Petrenko, said 13 people were killed and about 50 were injured.
    Man behind 'Cornerstore Caroline' video isn't buying her apology

    Man behind 'Cornerstore Caroline' video isn't buying her apology

    The New York Times reports Klein was confronted by neighbors when she returned to the store on Friday. She also claims the boy's mother threatened her life and she would like to pursue charges against her.
  • Prince Harry and Meghan given royal treatment in Melbourne

    Prince Harry and Meghan given royal treatment in Melbourne

    The lights went out and both Harry and Meghan pressed the buttons to launch their cars along the state dining room table. Among those who did not make their way to school was Rhys Pratt, eight, who begged his mother Naomi to take the day off.
    KSA vows retaliation if punished over missing critic

    KSA vows retaliation if punished over missing critic

    Surveillance footage later aired on Turkish state television shows Mr Khashoggi walking into the consulate at 1.14pm on October 2. The Saudi acceptance came after the kingdom on Sunday threatened retaliation for any sanctions it could face over Khashoggi.

    Spike reported in cases of baffling paralysis in children in 22 states

    But the data reported Tuesday represents "a substantially larger number than in previous months this year", Messonnier said. Those officials are probing another 65 illnesses in those states. " Poliovirus is not the cause of these AFM cases".

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.