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CDC assesses potential human exposure to prion diseases
Date:5/22/2011

Philadelphia, PA, May 23, 2011 Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have examined the potential for human exposure to prion diseases, looking at hunting, venison consumption, and travel to areas in which prion diseases have been reported in animals. Three prion diseases in particular bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or "Mad Cow Disease"), variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), and chronic wasting disease (CWD) were specified in the investigation. The results of this investigation are published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

"While prion diseases are rare, they are generally fatal for anyone who becomes infected. More than anything else, the results of this study support the need for continued surveillance of prion diseases," commented lead investigator Joseph Y. Abrams, MPH, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC, Atlanta."But it's also important that people know the facts about these diseases, especially since this study shows that a good number of people have participated in activities that may expose them to infection-causing agents."

Although rare, human prion diseases such as CJD may be related to BSE. Prion (proteinaceous infectious particles) diseases are a group of rare brain diseases that affect humans and animals. When a person gets a prion disease, brain function is impaired. This causes memory and personality changes, dementia, and problems with movement. All of these worsen over time. These diseases are invariably fatal. Since these diseases may take years to manifest, knowing the extent of human exposure to possible prion diseases could become important in the event of an outbreak.

CDC investigators evaluated the results of the 2006-2007 population survey conducted by the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet). This survey collects information on food consumption practices, health outc
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Contact: Francesca Costanzo
adajmedia@elsevier.com
215-239-3249
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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