Suspect case of CJD in Plzen

22-12-2000

Several days ago a 40-year-old man from Plzen died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Doctors are now trying to discover whether the patient died of the hereditary form of CJD, or new variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease. Lucie Krupickova has more:

The Czech Republic has seen several cases of the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or CJD, in the last few years. In all probability they died of the 'standard' hereditary form of CJD, and not 'new variant CJD', although doctors hasten to add that they cannot be 100-percent certain.

The chief physician at Plzen hospital, Zdenek Ambler, said in a newspaper interview today that it is always extremely difficult to prove which type of CJD a patient is suffering from. The only way to say with no doubt whatsoever that a patient had died from 'new variant' Czeutzfeldt-Jakob Disease - which scientists believe comes from eating infected beef - it must be proved that he or she had indeed eaten beef infected with BSE.

Doctor Ambler is convinced that certain concerns about infected beef are justified in the Czech Republic. On the other hand, he claims, there is no need to worry excessively. All European countries, including the Czech Republic, have already taken measures, he said, to prevent infected beef from reaching the dinner table. Whether the Czech Republic is at risk remains to be seen.