Hunter dies of rare disorder after possibly eating squirrel brains

A man has died of a rare disease after eating squirrel brains likened to mad cow disease

A man has died after he developed a rare and fatal infectious disease from eating squirrel brains likened to mad cow disease. Source GettyMore

According to the report, the 61-year-old man had been admitted to a hospital at Rochester Regional with cognitive impairment, schizophrenia and psychosis in 2015; he was also unable to walk under his own power.

The 61-year-old NY man was brought to hospital after he had difficulty thinking, was losing touch with reality and he couldn't walk by himself, according to a case report presented to an infectious diseases forum last week. They began digging through hospital records after seeing four suspected cases of CJD crop up within the span of six months last winter in the United States - an unusually high number for a rare disease that affects about 350 people in the entire country annually.

The unnamed 61-year-old, from NY, is said to have "lost touch with reality" before being brought to hospital in 2015.

His family described him as an avid hunter who had dined on squirrel brains.

Lead author Dr Tara Chen, a medical resident at Rochester Regional Health, told the website she discovered the case while doing a report on cases of the disease seen at her hospital during a five-year period. By publishing their preliminary case report, they also hope to raise doctors' awareness of CJD, noting that it took an average of two weeks to diagnose or rule out the disease in their cases. Most of these cases have been linked to consumption of contaminated beef in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s.

The disease is always fatal, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

The rare disease most often affects those around 60 years old. There is no treatment or cure for the disease. This high number prompted Chen and colleagues to conduct a review of suspected CJD cases at the hospital from 2013 to 2018. So far, the hunter's death is only considered a "probable" case of vCJD.

However, CJD can be confirmed only with a test of brain tissue on autopsy at death.

Just four confirmed cases have been reported in the U.S.

Quick diagnosis of CJD is important, because infectious prions could contaminate equipment used on patients with the disease, and this might transmit the condition to others if the equipment is not properly cleaned.

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