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What are the symptoms of Creuztfeldt-Jakob disease?

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Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, triggers rapid mental decline, including anxiety, memory loss, depression, impaired thinking and personality changes, Mayo Clinic explains. Individuals may have difficulty speaking and swallowing or may develop insomnia, blurred vision and involuntary movements. The symptoms may progress over a few months and lead to a coma.

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Progressive symptoms often cause people with CJD to go completely blind and lose all control of their movement and speech, states the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The disease also increases susceptibility to infections, which is a common cause of death. The type of symptoms and their patterns differ slightly in individuals with variant CJD. As of 2015, doctors have no designated diagnostic tests for the disease and must rely on the process of elimination by using techniques such as spinal taps, MRI scans and brain biopsies. The condition is often confirmed after death during an autopsy.

CJD is a rare degenerative brain condition that affects roughly one out of a million people annually worldwide, according to Mayo Clinic. CJD is classified as a form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or a condition that leads to spongy holes in the deteriorated brain tissue. Symptoms are caused by mutated, infectious proteins that interrupt the body’s biological functions. The condition is usually spontaneous or genetic, but in rare cases, individuals may develop the disease during medical procedures from exposure to infected tissue or surgical instruments.

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