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Clinical symptoms may aid early diagnosis of variant CJD

First hundred cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease: retrospective case note review of early psychiatric and neurological features BMJ Volume 324, pp 1479-82

BMJ

The possibility of a large epidemic of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease cannot be excluded, and doctors may see patients who are worried about the possibility of this diagnosis. A study in this week's BMJ provides a comprehensive description of the early psychiatric and neurological features of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease to aid early recognition of this condition.

Researchers analysed the case notes of the first 100 patients diagnosed with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the UK.

They found that the early stages of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are dominated by psychiatric symptoms, such as dysphoria, withdrawal, anxiety, and insomnia. A significant proportion of patients also exhibit neurological symptoms within four months of clinical onset, including poor memory, pain, sensory symptoms, and unsteadiness of gait.

The early clinical features of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease described in this paper are consistent with previous descriptions, say the authors. "We hope that the detailed analysis of the early psychiatric and neurological features of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in this paper may help with early and accurate recognition of this condition."

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