NY man reportedly dies after eating squirrel brains

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 17, 2018

A man has died after he developed a rare and fatal infectious disease from eating squirrel brains - a deadly disorder likened to mad cow disease.

Chen presented the report on October 4 at IDWeek, an annual meeting of infectious diseases professionals.

Doctors at Rochester Regional Health wrote in a report presented at the conference there were four suspected cases of the rare disease in a six-month period.

In 2015, the 61-year-old man was brought to a hospital in Rochester, New York, after experiencing a decline in his thinking abilities and losing touch with reality, the report said. The man was, as Live Science reports, an avid hunter and may have inadvertently mixed some contaminated brain matter from a squirrel he had killed with the rest of the meal.

As the disease progresses it fundamentally changes how a certain protein in the brain functions, causing lesions in brain tissue that rapidly spread and ultimately consumes the individual's mind.

Doctors discovered the man had developed a rare degenerative disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Tests indicated that this was a "probable" case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a fatal brain condition caused by infectious proteins called prions, because of the MRI finding and a test that showed specific proteins in the patient's cerebrospinal fluid, which often indicate the disease.

The high number caused doctors to review all suspected cases at the hospital between 2013 and 2018.

However, CJD can be confirmed only with a test of brain tissue on autopsy at death.

The symptoms are incredibly dire, and those diagnosed with the disease nearly always die within a year of showing symptoms. If so, such a confirmation would be highly unusual; only four confirmed cases of vCJD have ever been reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Squirrel-brain transmission of the disease is not a new concern.

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