A new research shows that the human form of the mad cow disease could be detected in the skin. The abnormal proteins that are involved in the CJD or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, more commonly known as the mad cow disease are detectable in the skin of those affected.
This raises new concerns about the transmission of the brain-destroying condition. However, researchers mentioned that it is highly unlikely that this condition could be transmitted through a simple skin-to-skin contact.
“There is no evidence that transmission can occur in real-world situations via casual skin contact. However, the results raise transmission questions that warrant further study,” stated Byron Caughey, Ph.D., a senior investigator.
The New Detection Method for Human Mad Cow Disease Cases
Despite the fact that it can’t be transmitted through direct contact, the human form of mad cow disease can spread through surgeries which don’t involve the brain. This can happen as the disease is transmissible through surgeries that involved infected brain tissue. This latest research also shows that other surgeries could unwillingly spread the disease as well.
The only ways to find out if a person suffers from this condition is with an autopsy, biopsy, or a spinal tap. Fortunately, only one in a million people worldwide suffers from this condition. People affected by it can develop vision and memory problems as well as behavioral changes. On average, people affected by this disease die within a year.
To conduct the study, the researchers used skin samples from almost 40 people who passed away from CJD. Prion levels were measured with a highly sensitive test. The scientists then used lab mice to observe if the disease spreads to them. According to the team, the infection levels on the skin are much lower than those in the brain but are still significant.
The results of this research might help doctors diagnose the disease by using less invasive methods. These can be used in cultures that don’t approve of brain autopsies, for example, India and China. Awareness about CJD was raised when people from Britain were diagnosed with mad cow disease after eating meat from a cow that suffered from this condition.
WHO mentioned that 224 cases of CJD were detected in between 1996 to 2011.
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