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From: TSS ()
Subject: Rare brain disease CJD claims life of TEXAS woman
Date: March 11, 2005 at 2:37 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Rare brain disease claims life of woman
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 16:40:14 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

Rare brain disease claims life of woman

By Elliott Blackburn

The Facts

Published March 11, 2005

JONES CREEK  Family members of a Jones Creek woman who died in January
say the 56-year-old suffered from a rare brain illness.

LaNeita Means suffered from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a disorder that
leaves the brain riddled with holes. Her relatives watched in disbelief
as the soul of the family transformed from an organized and outgoing
leader to a paranoid woman with the mindset of a 2 year old.

I wouldnt wish what my wife went through on my worst enemy, her
husband Doug Means said. Its a horrible disease.

Up until a year ago, LaNeita was the core of her family, her youngest
daughter Sherry Means said. LeNeita was a housekeeper who watched
Sherrys three daughters while Sherry went to school and took care of
Doug, who has had two major brain surgeries for an unrelated problem.

She was an avid gardener and spent a lot of time at the beach, Sherry
Means said.

She was just this wonderful person, who when you met her, you felt
lucky to have her as a friend, because she was one of those true
friends, she said.

But last year her personality began to change. Her eyesight began to
fail. She became forgetful, and though had lived in the area for 47
years, could not remember how to get from her home to Lake Jackson, her
daughter said. She totaled three cars in three weeks, and so her family
stopped her from driving.

Sherry Means believed that it was just old age, though her mother was
only 56.

I used to make a joke out of it, she said.

But LaNeita Means continued to get worse. She became paranoid and
believed that her husband was trying to kill her, he said. She started
hiding her jewelry because she thought strangers were in her house
spying on her and accused her family of moving her furniture after she
convinced herself that the hallway was her bedroom, Sherry Means said.

When she got sick, it just came on so quickly, and every day was a new
adventure, she said. You never knew how she was going to act.

Her family was afraid she was suffering a nervous breakdown. Doctors
couldnt determine what was wrong. LaNeita Means went in and out of
numerous hospitals and stayed briefly at a mental clinic before doctors
determined that her problem was physical.

In August, something in a magnetic resonance imaging scan caught a
doctors eye. In September, LaNeita was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease, a rare, untreatable brain disorder. It can be confused with
Alzheimers disease or dementia, and it progresses from vision problems
to hallucinations and coma.

Before she died in January, LaNeita Means would lose most of her motor
skills and her memory. She was emotional and, like a child, was
fascinated by noisy, shiny toys. Her family became strangers. She spent
her final months sobbing and inconsolable.

Once they had pretty well confirmed what she had, I could accept that
she was dying, Doug Means said. But I couldnt accept what she was
dying from.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, is a fatal brain disease with few
known causes and no cure. A more notorious variant of the disease,
called vCJD, is less common and may be connected to contaminated beef
from cattle infected with bovine spongiform ecephalopathy, or mad cow

CJD is transmitted through exposure to infected brain or nervous tissue,
and so cases of the disease that are passed from one person to another
are extremely rare. The majority of cases appear in patients that have
no known risk factors for the disease. Roughly 10 percent of the cases
are found in patients with a family history of the illness.

CJD affects one person in 1 million in the United States, according to
Centers for Disease Control estimates. The number of cases in Texas is
closer to three in 10 million, Texas Department of State Health Services
spokesman Doug McBride said. Since the department began collecting data
in 1997, 48 cases have been reported, he said. None were linked to mad
cow, he said.

That made it even harder to accept, Doug Means said.

She was diagnosed as dying from something that happened in third-world
countries, not in the United States, he said. Especially next to one
of the worlds greatest medical centers.

Her family now waits for the final results of an autopsy performed
shortly after her death, expected later this month.

Sherry Means said she was anxious and scared, hoping for any clues about
what caused the disease that afflicted her mother. She ate the same food
her mother did most of the time, and though there was no history of
dementia or Alzheimers disease in the family, she worried it could be
in the bloodline.

Im scared, she said.If its hereditary, could I have the gene, and
if I dont have the gene could my kids have the gene? Its just a scary
thought all the way around.

Elliott Blackburn is a reporter for The Facts. Contact him at (979)


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