Our world is filled with a myriad of different diseases, victimizing a multitude of people. Diseases can range from severe to mild and can affect people of all ages. Over the past several decades, there have been an abundant of advances in the medical field, many in which further along our understanding and the process of finding the best cures and treatments for the vast number of different diseases we have encountered over the many years. Although we continue to advance day in, and day out, there are still many diseases in which still stay as an enigma to us; this includes the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also known as CJD, affects around 250 unlucky Americans each year (Creutzfeldt-Jakob), typically between the ages of 50-75 (Prusiner). It is a rare disease, only affecting one in one million people (Creutzfeldt-Jakob), but nonetheless, it is important we are educated and continue to learn more about it. Since Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is so rare, there are numerous symptoms in which the patient first experiences to be considered for this disease. In the early stages, symptoms will include weakness; changes in sleep patterns; weight loss; and a loss in appetite and/or sex drive (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease 902-906). Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a very fast developing disease and does not take long for symptoms to worsen. Soon patients of CJD are likely to experience myoclonus (muscle spasms); ataxia (balance and coordination disturbances); stiffness and trouble moving, much like Parkinson’s; and visual disturbances, i.e. double vision, blurry vision, and a partial loss of vision (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease 902-906). Another possible symptom includes fatal familial insomnia, which is insomnia that continues to worsen to the point of hallucinations, delirium, and states of confusion (Creutzfeldt-Jakob). Alongside these symptoms, CJD is most commonly characterized by dementia. Dementia is the loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases; it affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. If someone were to have these symptoms, they would need to seek medical attention to be properly diagnosed. In order to be diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a clinical neurological exam and an electroencephalography (EEG) would need to be done (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease 902-906). Along with these tests, an MRI or a CT and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) should be done as well to cancel out all other possibilities (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease 902-906). With the results of these tests, doctors are given a very good idea on whether or not the patient has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It is not until the patient is deceased when the final diagnosis can be declared. After the passing of the patient, an autopsy of the brain must be done in order to have a concrete diagnosis (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease 902-906). After being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, it is crucial to understand what exactly is taking place inside of the body and how the afflicted human came about the disease in the first place. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can happen sporadically, taking up 85% of cases; be hereditary, 10% of cases; or it can also be acquired, taking up a mere 1% of CJD cases (Lerner). There is no definite cause to this disease, but the “prion hypothesis” is most accepted cause as of now. Before the prion hypothesis, scientists believed Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was a virus, but after further review, they realized CJD does not spread like a virus would. In the prion hypothesis, a prion is the altered form of a normal brain protein. The difference between the prion and the normal protein is that in the normal protein, there is a helical shape along part of its side, and in the prion form, a sheet structure replaces the helix. When that single prion interacts with other normal, healthy proteins, the normal form’s helical part then converts to a sheet, so that the normal protein transforms into the...
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Prusiner, Stanley B. "Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2014
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