Korea Sees 1st Death from Virulent Brain-Wasting Disease

      November 30, 2011 12:00

      A woman has died of iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, becoming the first confirmed victim of the terminal disorder in Korea. She is believed to have been infected during a subdural transplant surgery in the mid-1980s.

      The disease is not to be confused with the similarly named variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease, though both lead to disintegration of the brain.

      iCJD occurs when the prion-infected tissue of one person infects another. It has nothing to do with variant CJD, which infects humans who have eaten beef from infected cattle, health authorities said.

      According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, the 54-year-old woman suffered from meningioma, a disease that causes water to fill a certain area of the brain, in 1987. Surgery was performed to remove tumors and the dura mater that surrounded them.

      She had a subdural transplant over the surface of her brain with Lyodura, a German-manufactured piece of artificial dura mater that was produced in the 1980s, to cover the affected area.

      She had since lived without any special symptoms. But since 2010 she suffered from sensory disorders in the face and feet, movement disorder, and brain disease symptoms like seizures. She rapidly deteriorated and died in November last year, five months after the iCJD symptoms began, the KCDC added.

      CJD has an incubation period of 20 to 30 years.

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