Man dies of rare disease after eating squirrel brains

A man has died of a rare disease after eating squirrel brains likened to mad cow disease

It is specified that the 61-year-old American was taken to a hospital in NY with complaints of confusion and the inability to move normally.

The 61-year-old was brought to Rochester Regional Health hospital in 2015 saying he was having trouble thinking clearly, was losing touch with reality and could no longer walk on his own, researchers said in an October 4 report on on the case, according to Live Science.

Judging by his brain scans and other tests, the man had likely come down with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a form of the rare and universally fatal neurodegenerative ailment.

In this case, eating contaminated cow meat wasn't the issue - another animal was to blame.

The New York Post reports the man had been known by his family to "eat squirrel brains".

The non-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is also rare, with only about 350 cases per year in the United States, according to the NIH.

The disease is similar to "mad cow disease", which causes tiny holes to fill the brain until the tissue looks like a sponge (which is where '"spongiform" comes from), according to the National Institutes of Health.

It might be shocking for many but, indeed, there was an American who ate squirrel brains.

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Symptoms of CJD usually begin to appear around age 60 and include depression, anxiety, memory loss, personality changes, impaired thinking, difficulty swallowing and difficulty speaking.

It is a sister disease of CJD, a similar condition which is nearly 100 times more common.

A variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) captured the public attention in the 1990s when people in the United Kingdom developed the disease from eating contaminated beef in an outbreak of mad cow disease.

Most patients suffering from CJD and vCJD die within a year.

CJD is one of several diseases that are caused by a kind of protein known as a prion.

Most people who contract it only live around a year. They found five cases in total, but two of them turned out to be negative for the disease.

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

The authors note that CJD is only confirmed by testing the brain tissue during an autopsy.

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