Squirrel meat possibly linked to Rochester man’s brain disease

A Rochester, New York man recently died from a variant Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease (vCJD) a rare and fatal disease via squirrel meat.

The man was a hunter and went to the hospital when he began to show signs of his body breaking down. According to WGNTV, the man came to the hospital when he lost touch with reality and had trouble walking.

While in the hospital the 61 year old was found to have cognitive impairment, schizophrenia and psychosis. Five months after he was first showing signs of vCJD, he died.

A prion disease, vCJD was first found in the United Kingdom in 1996. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) also know as the common moniker, “mad cow disease,” is a neurological disease in cows. Cows likely caught BSE through animal feed made with infected brain matter of other cows.

Dr. Tara Chen who lead a report on the rise of CJD cases told live science “It’s unclear if the man consumed the entire squirrel brain or just squirrel meat that was contaminated with parts of squirrel brain.” This disease effects 350 people in the country and 1 million people worldwide.

Chen and her colleagues are asking if they can have the man’s medical records to examine the brain to see the autopsy diagnosis since vCJD is something doctors can diagnose after death. Any delay could risk cross infection with medical equipment that is not sterilized.

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