Doctors Suspect Man Died Of Extremely Rare Disease After Eating Squirrel Brains

Leslie Hanson
October 20, 2018

A man in NY developed an extremely rare and fatal brain disorder after he ate squirrel brains, according to a new report of the man's case.

He was diagnosed with Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in 2015 'after suffering thinking problems and impaired walking, ' according to the report. Chen said it also wasn't clear if the man ate the brains themselves or meat that was contaminated with brain matter, according to the site.

According to the man's family, he liked to hunt and used to eat squirrel brains.

Lead author Dr Tara Chen, a medical resident at Rochester Regional Health, told the website she discovered the case while doing a report on cases of the disease seen at her hospital during a five-year period.

Around one in a million people around the world have been infected with CJD, with just 350 cases occurring in the USA every year.

The neurodegenerative disease is one of the various diseases caused by prion, a kind of protein that exist in the brain naturally and are harmless.

There are three forms of CJD, and just one form (which includes vCJD) is caused by exposure to infected brain or nervous system tissue.

It might be shocking for many but, indeed, there was an American who ate squirrel brains.

A variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) captured the public attention in the 1990s when people in the United Kingdom developed the disease from eating contaminated beef in an outbreak of mad cow disease. There is no treatment or cure for the disease. Most people develop the disease spontaneously, while a few inherit it.

Of the five cases detailed in their report, however, two were eventually confirmed not to be CJD after all.

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

Only four confirmed cases of vCJD had been reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

An MRI examination and a test of his cerebrospinal fluid revealed the proteins that usually trigger "mad cow disease". With many fatal brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's, doctors can only be sure of the diagnosis by examining the brain after death.

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