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Mad Cow Disease

Author(s): Sonia Rahmati Clayton, PhD, James Denk, MA, and Nancy Moreno, PhD

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD)

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), is a fatal disease of the nervous system in humans. In the United States,the average age of patients with vCJD is 26 years, as opposed to 68 years for those who contract Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). This age discrepancy led researchers to look carefully at the younger patients and to uncover the connection between vCJD and Mad Cow Disease. On the basis of observable symptoms, probable cases can be diagnosed. However,  confirmation of vCJD cases requires examination of patients' brain tissue after death.