Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Synonyms: CJD

Medical Specialties: Infectious disease, Internal medicine, Neurology

Clinical Definition

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare neurodegenerative disease that occurs due to prion proteins, which are even smaller than viruses. The disease is classified as a spongiform encephalopathy due to the formation of vacuoles in the gray matter of the brain. The condition causes rapid deterioration of brain function and is fatal. There are a few forms of the disease including the variant form, which is commonly known as mad cow disease. 

In Our Own Words

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare disease that causes brain damage and is fatal. Scientists don’t fully understand the cause, but it is considered a prion disease since a prion protein is involved. Scientists believe the prion is an infectious particle that causes damage to other proteins in the body, especially in the neurons of the brain with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, resulting in fluid filled spaces in the brain and a rapid decrease in brain function with death soon to follow.


There are different forms of the disease, which are classified according to the disease pattern. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is also known as mad cow disease, is one form of the illness. Eating beef from cows infected with an abnormal prion protein is thought to transmit the disease to humans. 

Common Types
  • Sporadic
  • Familial
  • Variant
Side Effects
  • Confusion
  • Blurred Vision
  • Memory problems
  • Personality changes
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Psychosis
Share this article
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Classic)." Accessed November 2013.
  • NYU Langone Medical Center. "Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease." Accessed November 2013.
  • University of California San Francisco Medical Center. "Types of Prion Disease." Accessed November 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease." Accessed November 2013.
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