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Ministry confirms vCJD ruled out

Media release

15 August 2003

Ministry confirms vCJD ruled out

The Ministry of Health has been notified of test results ruling out variant CJD as a diagnosis for a Waikato man with an undiagnosed progressive neurological disease.

A test of the man's tonsil carried out in Melbourne for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has returned a negative result.

The Ministry of Health's assessment and the expert advice received means that health authorities are now confident that this diagnosis can be excluded.

A second test on the man's cerebral spinal fluid would be consistant with sporadic CJD and a number of other disorders. Neurologists will continue to investigate other possible diagnoses.

Unlike variant CJD, sporadic CJD is not transmitted by contaminated meat products.

In New Zealand, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a notifiable illness and a central register is held at the University of Otago. There are several types of Creutzfeldt- Jakob Disease including hereditary, sporadic and variant CJD.

If New Zealand ever had a case of variant CJD it would be likely to be from someone who has spent time in the United Kingdom prior to the food safety measures introduced in the UK.

Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease occurs in about one in one million people per year, and accordingly New Zealand has about three deaths per year from this condition. The condition usually affects people over 45 years of age although cases in younger people are not unknown.

Director of Public Health, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said the Ministry of Health extended its sympathy to the man affected and his family.


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