Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease symptoms include sudden, jerky movements; memory loss; personality changes; depression and impaired thinking, according to Mayo Clinic. Additional symptoms include anxiety, blurred vision or vision loss, insomnia, and difficulty speaking or swallowing. The rapid mental deterioration associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob often occurs over a few months.
Mental symptoms worsen over time, Mayo Clinic explains. Most patients usually end up comatose and dying within a year. Most patients die of heart failure, respiratory failure or infections, such as pneumonia.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a rarer form of the disease, tends to begin with psychiatric symptoms, Mayo Clinic reports. The dementia associated with regular Creutzfeldt-Jakob begins later in the variant form, which usually affects younger people. The variant also lasts slightly longer, up to 14 months, than the classic disease.
Classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob affects about one in a million people each year, Mayo Clinic states. It is typically found in older adults. Although it has many of the same symptoms of other dementia-related brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Creutzfeldt-Jakob is distinctive in the patient's rapid decline.
An outbreak of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease made headlines in the 1990s in Great Britain when people contracted the disease after eating beef from infected cattle, Mayo Clinic says. Classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease hasn't been linked to infected beef.