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From: TSS ()
Subject: Re: Taiwan reports suspected case of mad-cow disease from placenta
Date: August 30, 2007 at 6:37 pm PST

In Reply to: Taiwan reports suspected case of mad-cow disease from placenta posted by TSS on August 30, 2007 at 7:10 am:

CDC downplays risk of CJD from placenta injections

MEDIA SPECULATION: Department of Health experts on Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease believe it is unlikely that a woman in Tainan has the disease

Friday, Aug 31, 2007, Page 2
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officials said yesterday that it is "exceedingly unlikely" that a Taiwanese woman contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) -- the human form of mad cow disease -- after injecting herself with placenta extract.

CDC Deputy Director Chou Chih-hao (周志浩) made the remarks in response to story in the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday which reported that a woman who developed classic symptoms of CJD over the past 10 months and is now in a vegetative state could be suffering from a new variant of CJD (nv-CJD) as she had received placenta injections for a long time before checking into the National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan for treatment.

Chou said yesterday that an evaluation done in March by the Department of Health's (DOH) advisory committee on CJD found it unlikely that the woman was suffering from the degenerative brain disease.

CDC officials preliminarily excluded the possibility that the patient is an nv CJD patient on the grounds that placenta injections are banned in this country and that there is nothing in the literature to indicate that any CJD cases have been caused by placenta injections.

Chou said the CDC decided to call in its specialists to review the case on Sept. 8 because it had received limited information about the patient's medical history so far and is awaiting more details from the hospital.

The causes of classic CJD infection are unknown and there is no cure to it. It is very rare, striking about one person per million every year worldwide.

Most of the cases have been "sporadic," meaning they have no known cause. A few have been linked to organ transplants from infected people, or to genetics.

Many victims who died from classic CJD did not contract it from contaminated meat. Classic CJD strikes people 50 or older, progresses rapidly and has only physical symptoms.

To date, 175 classic CJD cases have been reported in Taiwan, with about a dozen cases being reported each year, Chou said. He urged people to remain calm.

"Of course we don't want people to be taking placenta extracts. It is illegal," Chou said. "Nevertheless, some people have done so and we also don't want those people to be unduly worried about a risk that isn't there."

New variant CJD is a human disease of the central nervous system that was first diagnosed in the UK in 1995. Scientists have tentatively linked the disease to eating meat products from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease.

Except for a few cases in other European nations with BSE, nv-CJD has been found almost exclusively in the UK. It strikes younger people, often begins with psychiatric symptoms and progresses slowly.

Both BSE and nv-CJD eventually destroy their hosts' motor skills and coordination, and both show a characteristic spongelike appearance in the victims' brains when autopsied. Both are fatal.

Additional reporting by Angelica Oung

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