(photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)
The L. Greenberg Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir identified the body of a man
who died in an unnamed hospital as having suffered from Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease (CJD). The rare disease, which occurs in one in a million people, is
more common in its genetic form among Jews of Libyan origin.
infectious form, it is know as a human form of mad cow disease (bovine
spongiform encephalopathy or BSE) that was spread in the UK some years ago and
resulted in the prohibition of taking blood from people who spent time in that
The Health Ministry said Tuesday that the danger of being
infected under normal conditions was negligible.
Prof. Arnon Afek, head
of the ministry’s medical administration, and doctors at the forensic institute
consulted with Dr.
Eitan Yisraeli, an expert on protection from
infections, on how to take protective measures and disinfect equipment and rooms
at Abu Kabir. This process was fully carried out.
CJD is a degenerative,
fatal and incurable disease of the brain that can affect adults of varying ages.
The brain tissue becomes “spongy.” Between five percent and 10% of cases were
caused by the genetic disease and the rest by “misfolded proteins” called prions
that build up and form amyloids similar to those that appear in the brain with
Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms include progressive dementia that develops
rapidly and leads to memory loss, hallucinations and personality
The ministry did not say whether the victim whose body underwent
an autopsy was of Libyan origin, nor did it reveal his age.
scientists discovered less than a decade ago a similar disease called Kuru,
which appeared among cannibals in Papua New Guinea. Relatives used to eat the
brains of dead relatives as a sign of mourning.
But the prions in Kuru
incubated themselves for anywhere between two and five decades, suggesting that
the CJD could do the same.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>