Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a rare and fatal human neurodegenerative condition which is classified as a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) because of its ability to be transmitted and the characteristic spongy degeneration of the brain that it causes.
Clinical features: Early in the illness, patients usually experience psychiatric or sensory symptoms, which most commonly take the form of depression, apathy or anxiety, and occasionally (in a third of the cases) unusual persistent and painful sensory symptoms. Neurological signs, including unsteadiness, difficulty walking and involuntary movements, develop as the illness progresses and, by the time of death, patients become completely immobile and mute.
Diagnosis: The clinical presentation, progressive nature of the disease and failure to find any other diagnosis are characteristic of vCJD. There are no completely reliable tests to use before the onset of clinical symptoms. However, magnetic resonance scans and tonsillar biopsy are useful diagnostic tests.