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Volume 23, Number 6—June 2017
Etymologia

Etymologia: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

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Ronnie HenryComments to Author  and Frederick A. Murphy

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Creutzfeldt-Jakob [croytsʹfelt-jakʺob] Disease

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Thumbnail of (L–R) Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt (1885–1964; Alfons Maria Jakob (1884–1931); Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, cerebrum hematoxylin and eosin staining showing spongiform encephalophathy. Images reproduced from Foundations of Virology, 2012, courtesy Frederick A. Murphy.

Figure. (L–R) Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt (1885–1964; Alfons Maria Jakob (1884–1931); Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, cerebrum hematoxylin and eosin staining showing spongiform encephalophathy. Images reproduced from Foundations of Virology, 2012, courtesy Frederick A. Murphy.

In 1920, German neuropathologist Alfons Maria Jakob (Figure) described a series of 6 patients with spasticity and progressive dementia associated with neural degeneration. Shortly thereafter, in 1921, another German neuropathologist, Hans Gerhardt Creutzfeldt (Figure), independently published a similar case. Jakob gave credit to Creutzfeldt for describing the syndrome first, without realizing he had also uncovered the new syndrome. Walther Spielmeyer first used the term “Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease” (CJD) in 1922. CJD occurs worldwide as a rare, sporadic disease, with genetic and iatrogenic forms (Figure). A zoonotic form, variant CJD (vCJD), is caused by infection with a prion derived from bovines and occurs predominantly in the United Kingdom.

This issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ long-running Etymologia series is dedicated to the memory of Richard T. Johnson, MD (1931–2015), the leading prion disease authority in the United States for many years and great friend of CDC’s infectious disease programs, so many of which involve central nervous system disorders.

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References

  1. Brown  P, Brandel  JP, Sato  T, Nakamura  Y, MacKenzie  J, Will  RG, et al. Iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, final assessment. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012;18:9017. DOIPubMed
  2. Murphy  FA. The foundations of virology: discoverers and discoveries, inventors and inventions, developers and technologies. West Conshohocken (PA): Infinity Publishing; 2012.
  3. Prusiner  SB. Prions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998;95:1336383. DOIPubMed
  4. Richardson  EP Jr, Masters  CL. The nosology of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and conditions related to the accumulation of PrPCJD in the nervous system. Brain Pathol. 1995;5:3341. DOIPubMed

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2306.et2306

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Table of Contents – Volume 23, Number 6—June 2017

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Ronnie Henry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd NE, Mailstop E03, Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA

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Page created: May 16, 2017
Page updated: May 16, 2017
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The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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