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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
December 18, 2002

Probable Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in a US Resident—Florida, 2002

JAMA. 2002;288(23):2965-2967. doi:10.1001/jama.288.23.2965-JWR1218-5-1

MMWR. 2002;51:927-929

On April 18, 2002, the Florida Department of Health and CDC announced the occurrence of a likely case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in a Florida resident aged 22 years. This report documents the investigation of this case and underscores the importance of physicians increasing their suspicion for vCJD in patients presenting with clinical features described in this report who have spent time in areas in which bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is endemic.

In early November 2001, the patient sought medical care for depression and memory loss that adversely affected the patient's work performance. The primary-care physician referred the patient to a psychologist. In early December 2001, the patient received a traffic ticket for failing to yield the right of way. In mid-December 2001, the patient had involuntary muscular movements, gait changes, difficulty dressing, and incontinence. In January 2002, the patient was evaluated in a local emergency department for these symptoms. A computerized tomography scan of the head revealed no abnormalities; a panic attack was diagnosed, and the patient was treated with an anti-anxiety medication.