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From: TSS ()
Subject: POTENTIAL CJD CLUSTER IN 3 MANITOBANS, another coincidence of more spontaneous BSe
Date: December 8, 2006 at 7:29 am PST

Curler among 3 Manitobans suspected of having CJD
Last Updated: Friday, December 8, 2006 | 9:05 AM ET
CBC News
Three Manitobans — including a prominent men's curler — are suspected of having the brain-wasting disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob.

Doctors from the Brandon Regional Health Authority have referred three suspected cases of CJD for further testing. They include Neil Andrews, 58, a two-time senior provincial curling champion from Brandon.

Dr. Charles Penner said he doesn't believe the cases are linked, but added that a cluster of cases is even rarer than CJD itself.

As of Nov. 1, six cases of CJD have been reported in Canada this year, says the Public Health Agency of Canada. Since 1997, 720 cases of the degenerative and fatal disease have been referred to the agency.

Andrews was diagnosed with a suspected case of CJD in September, after he had trouble keeping his balance while curling. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., later told him he likely had CJD.

Earlier this week, a hospital in London, Ont., suspended surgeries for two days when one neurosurgery patient was suspected of having CJD. Preliminary test results came back negative on Tuesday.

About 30 cases of "classical" CJD are diagnosed in Canada every year.

It's the more common, sporadic of two types of CJD, which occurs spontaneously, sometimes because the disease is hereditary. Less than one per cent of the time, it is contracted through hospital or medical procedures.

The second type, variant CJD, is associated with mad-cow disease.

With files from the Canadian Press

Human version of mad cow hits Manitoba
Three cases suspected from same area in province

The Canadian Press
Published: Friday, December 08, 2006
BRANDON, Man. - Three people in Manitoba, including prominent provincial curler Neil Andrews, are suspected of being infected with a degenerative and fatal brain disease, health officials confirmed Thursday.

Doctors from the Brandon Health Region said they have referred three suspected cases of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, or CJD, for further testing.

CJD infects about one person in every million.

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Dr. Charles Penner, vice-president of medical services for the Brandon Regional Health Authority, doesn't believe the cases are linked, although a cluster of cases is even rarer than the disease.

"For the province to have three cases in one corner of the province, I suppose that would be unusual," he said.

Andrews, a two-time senior provincial men's curling champion, was actually diagnosed with a suspected case of CJD in September. Andrews, 58, noticed something was wrong when he had trouble keeping his balance during his curling delivery.

After a weeklong stay at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., doctors told him he likely had CJD.

"(The curlers) knew I couldn't curl and some of them thought that before," he said, laughing, while at a curling club in Brandon in October. "And almost every guy took the time and stopped and talked to me and talked to me openly about the disease and that was good.

"They tried to understand. I'm one of the unfortunate ones who's going to die but they considered themselves lucky."

Typically, one in three suspected cases turns out to be classical CJD, which can lead to rapid brain deterioration, dementia and mobility trouble.

Unlike variant CJD, which has been linked to beef contaminated by mad cow disease, classical CJD cases most often appear sporadically and affect people between 45 and 75. A total of 14 confirmed cases has been reported in Manitoba in the last decade.

Doctors use MRI scans and spinal taps to test for the presence of an abnormal protein to help diagnose a suspected case. But physicians can't confirm anything until an autopsy on brain tissue is performed.

Most people infected with CJD die within a year of the onset of symptoms.

Dr. Michael Coulthard, director of host genetics and prion disease at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, said the results of the suspected case are still pending. He said there has only been one cluster of cases reported worldwide -- in Switzerland -- in the last five years.

© The Edmonton Journal 2006


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