Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD)
What is vCJD?
vCJD is an untreatable, fatal disease in humans which is similar to BSE in cattle and scrapie in sheep. The type of CJD associated with BSE in cattle is termed ‘variant CJD’. The disease is believed to be caused by an infectious agent called a ‘prion’ (protein), usually carried in blood and tissue. Onset of illness is more common in individuals in their 20s, resulting in death of brain nerve cells and eventual death of the patient over an approximate 18 month period. Further information on CJD can be found at: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/43948
How are the proteins / disease spread?
The protein may not be removed from the surgical instruments used after they have undergone strict decontamination protocols within the hospital. Decontamination includes a combination of cleaning, disinfection and / or sterilisation. In summary, this includes using a strong cleaning solution (similar to bleach) followed by steam heating. Failure to remove all of the protein can potentially lead to the spread of the remaining protein to a patient when the instruments are re-used on tissue.
Last updated: 06/05/2011