WASHINGTON - August 17 - Last week's death of a 72-year-old woman from Twin Falls County, Idaho, was the state's fifth fatality since January from a rare, degenerative brain disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the Idaho Times News reports.
All but one of the women were from Twin Falls County. Brain tissue from some of the victims has been sent to Case Western Research University researchers in Cleveland to be studied for a possible common link, the newspaper said. This rare form of CJD occurs naturally, and is not the same as variant CJD, which people acquire from eating beef tainted with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly called mad cow disease.
CJD is characterized by abnormally folded proteins in the brain, leading to progressive brain damage. Victims typically die within five months of the disease's onset, the newspaper said, citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Normally, CJD affects just one person per 1 million people worldwide annually, the Times-News said. The United States normally reports fewer than 300 cases per year, the newspaper said, again citing the CDC.