Rare brain disorder suspected

University Hospital is awaiting test results on a patient who might have a rare brain disorder.


In March, University admitted a patient who appeared to be suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, spokeswoman Erica Cline said Friday.

Samples were taken and sent to "one of the few specialty laboratories in the country capable of performing the test," she said. "And the results are not yet back."

The tests have a 30-day turnaround time, but the hospital isn't sure when they are due back.

The patient has been released to hospice care and the hospital isn't sure of his status, Ms. Cline said.

The disease, which has no cure and is generally fatal within a year, can show up spontaneously or be inherited or acquired, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. An acquired form of it called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is believed to be linked to eating meat from cattle infected with a similar disease called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, sometimes called "mad cow disease," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been only three variant acquired cases in the U.S., two who acquired it in Great Britain and one who acquired it in Saudi Arabia, according to the CDC.

University doesn't know what form of the disease the patient has, Ms. Cline said.

"You also have to take into consideration that the disease itself has an incredibly long incubation period," she said. "Where this person contracted the disease or if it is inherited, that's a question that will have to be answered."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.