Man dies from extremely rare ‘SQUIRREL DISEASE’ after eating rodent’s BRAINS

The 61-year-old man was brought to a hospital in Rochester New York after experiencing a decline in his thinking abilities and losing touch with reality the report said. The man had also lost the ability to walk on his own

A hunter from NY who died four years ago may have gotten a rare brain disorder after possibly eating squirrel brains, according to a new report.

In a case report, researchers said the 61-year-old was brought to Rochester Regional Health in 2015 saying he was having trouble thinking, he was losing touch with reality and he couldn't walk.

Judging by his brain scans and other tests, the man had likely come down with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a form of the rare and universally fatal neurodegenerative ailment.

The man's family said he'd been known to eat squirrel brains - though it's unclear if he dined on the whole brain or squirrel meat that had come in contact with the contaminated brain.

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.

With no known cure, professional treatment usually focuses on making those affected more comfortable.

There are three forms of CJD: one that is inherited, one that comes from exposure to infected tissue from the brain or nervous system, and one that is "sporadic" and does not appear to have a genetic or environmental cause.

What is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)?

A variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) captured the public attention in the 1990s when people in the United Kingdom developed the disease from eating contaminated beef in an outbreak of mad cow disease.

Symptoms include depression, anxiety, memory loss, personality changes, impaired thinking, difficulty swallowing and difficulty speaking.

The disease results from prion proteins that fold abnormally, leading to lesions in the brain.

Most people who contract it only live around a year.

The high number caused doctors to review all suspected cases at the hospital between 2013 and 2018. With many fatal brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's, doctors can only be sure of the diagnosis by examining the brain after death.

Only four people have ever confirmed to have the disease in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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