Another case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease detected

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Another case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease detected

Health authorities confirmed yesterday the second case of iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a week after confirming the first case of the same disease that killed a 54-year-old female last year who contracted it during brain surgery in 1987.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), a 48-year-old male, who had received a dura mater transplant in May of 1988 after suffering a brain hemorrhage, was confirmed to have contracted the disease.

In July, the patient was initially diagnosed with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is one of four forms of the disease - sporadic cases from unknown cases, cases associated with a gene mutation, iatrogenic cases that resulted from accidental infection during a medical procedure, and variant cases that are believed to be linked to consumption of beef from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease.

However, the KCDC confirmed the disease to be iCJD after conducting an epidemiological investigation. The KCDC said that the same problematic German-made product Lyodura, a material made from the dura mater of a human cadaver - which is also blamed for causing the condition in the female patient - was used on the male patient during his surgery in 1988. Doctors believe that the Lyodura was produced from a CJD-infected cadaver, which ended up infecting the female patient.

Last week, upon confirmation of the first case, local health authorities emphasized that the production and sales of Lyodura, manufactured by medical and pharmaceutical company B Braun, had ceased in 1987, explaining that patients who received similar surgeries after 1987 don’t have to be anxious about the disease, which had an incubation period of 20 years for the female victim. However, the male patient, who is currently in a vegetative state, had his surgery in May 1988, causing the public to lose confidence in health authorities’ explanations.

“Although the production and sales ceased in 1987, we can doubt that products distributed before the suspension were used after 1987,” said Park Hye-kyung, head of the Infectious Diseases Surveillance division at the KCDC.

Moreover, Park explained that it is difficult to figure out how many of these products produced before 1987 were imported and used in Korea as there was no management system of the supply-chain at that time in Korea.

“After the establishment of the Korean Food and Drug Administration in 1998, Lyodura was not approved to enter the country, but it is difficult to find any data or statistics about the quantity before the establishment of the KFDA,” said Park.

The KCDC said it has requested associations including the Korea Neurological Association, Korean Medical Association and Korean Hospital Association make detailed records of the medical history of patients who are diagnosed with sporadic CJD as there is the possibility other patients will be discovered to have iCJD.


By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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