Should Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease be included in the differential diagnoses of schizophrenia?

Updated: Mar 16, 2018
  • Author: Frances R Frankenburg, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Prions cause the rare CJD, one of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease usually occurs in people older than 50 years and is marked by rapid deterioration, dementia, abnormal electroencephalographic complexes, and myoclonic jerks.

A variant of this illness, vCJD, is the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (so-called mad cow disease). Fewer than 200 cases of vCJD have occurred worldwide, and as of 2003, only 2 cases had occurred in the United States. Unlike CJD, vCJD seems to affect people aged 20-40 years. It begins with behavioral changes. In several cases, the patient was diagnosed with schizophrenia before the diagnosis of vCJD was made.

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