Fiocruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation) stated this Thursday (11) that two patients hospitalized for investigation of mad cow disease are, in fact, suspected of having the sporadic form of CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), considering clinical and radiological tests. The sporadic form is not related to the consumption of beef.
However, there is still no diagnostic confirmation. The two patients are admitted to the Hospital Center for the Covid-19 Pandemic of the INI (National Institute of Infectology). Both are residents of Baixada Fluminense — one is a resident of Belford Roxo and the other of Duque de Caxias.
In a statement, the City of Duque de Caxias stated that the patient is a 55-year-old man who presented symptoms such as dementia and ataxia (loss or irregularity of muscle coordination).
CJD is a rapidly evolving neurodegenerative disease that inevitably leads to the patient’s death. The cause and transmission are linked to infective proteinaceous particles called prions, infectious agents smaller than those of viruses.
Sporadic traditional CJD accounts for 85% of all cases of the disease. It usually affects people between 55 to 70 years. Among the symptoms are: brain disorder with memory loss, tremors and lack of coordination of muscle movements.
The disease can also be inherited or transmitted through the use of neurosurgical instruments, which is extremely rare.
Mad cow disease, on the other hand, is a variant of CJD (vCJD) that can be transmitted to humans through consumption of beef contaminated with EBB (Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis). In animals, the disease causes aggression and lack of coordination.
vCJD predominantly affects young people under 30 years of age. According to the Ministry of Health, in 63% of cases, patients have symptoms “typically nonspecific psychiatric, behavioral and sensory”. Manifestations include agitation, irritability, psychosis, weakening or loss of one’s senses, and numbness or tingling sensation.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply published a note stating that, since CJD surveillance was instituted in Brazil, no case of the vCJD form has been confirmed in the country.
In September, the government confirmed two atypical cases of mad cow in slaughterhouses in Nova Canaã do Norte (MT) and Belo Horizonte (MG), which led to the suspension of beef exports to China. The country is the main destination for Brazilian beef, accounting, together with Hong Kong, for almost 60% of the total exported.
The records represented the fourth and fifth cases of atypical EBB in more than 23 years of health surveillance for the disease, according to the Agricultural Defense Secretariat. Brazil has never registered the occurrence of classic EBB.
Atypical mad cow cases are less dangerous for the herd because they are spontaneous and sporadic, as they depart from an animal’s body and do not happen due to ingestion of contaminated feed, but due to cell degeneration. This type usually affects cattle at an advanced age. The classic mad cow, on the other hand, occurs due to the consumption of contaminated food, such as animal protein, and affects the younger herd.
The two cases, one in each slaughterhouse, were detected in cows of advanced age, according to the paste, and of cull, which were no longer useful for the reproduction of calves or milk.