CHP closely monitors probable case of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (December 6) received a report from the health authority of Macao concerning a probable case of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) affecting a 51-year-old female Macao resident who had undergone a brain operation in a private hospital in Hong Kong.

     According to the health authority of Macao, the woman who developed progressive dementia with limbs spasm, unstable gait, muscle twitching and visual disturbance suggestive of CJD, has been admitted to a hospital in Macao on October 30. Her clinical diagnosis was sporadic CJD and the patient is now in severe condition.

     Investigation by the Macao health authority revealed that the woman had received a brain surgery in a private hospital in Hong Kong on September 19.

     Upon receipt of the report, the CHP acted in accordance with the international practice and advised the hospital to contact the patients who had undergone procedures using the same set of instruments as the patient since September 19.
     According to the current understanding, the transmission risk is extremely low.  The contact tracing is a precautionary measure.   

     A CHP spokesman said, "CJD is a rare disease that affects the brain and is thought to be caused by the build-up of an abnormal, transmissible protein called 'prion' in the brain."

     The spokesman said surgical instruments used on the patient should have been sterilised but may not be enough to eradicate the prions which are the causing agents of the disease. Contact tracing conducted by the hospital is under way.
     The clinical feature of CJD is characterised by dementia and difficulties in walking. Early symptoms include memory loss, unsteady gait and loss of co-ordination of limbs. These dementia-like symptoms will worsen and twitching of limbs and trunk will occur. Besides, visual disturbance, abnormal behaviour and seizures can occur. Most patients die within one to two years after onset of symptoms.

     Since CJD is not transmitted through casual contact, isolation of patients is not necessary. To prevent the disease from spreading, tissue or organ transplant from any CJD patients or re-use of potentially contaminated surgical instruments should be avoided.

Ends/Thursday, December 6, 2012
Issued at HKT 21:01