Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is marked by rapid mental deterioration, usually within a few months. Initial signs and symptoms typically include:

  • Personality changes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired thinking
  • Blurred vision or blindness
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sudden, jerky movements

As the disease progresses, mental symptoms worsen. Most people eventually lapse into a coma. Heart failure, respiratory failure, pneumonia or other infections are generally the cause of death. Death usually occurs within a year.

In people with the rarer vCJD, psychiatric symptoms may be more prominent in the beginning, with dementia — the loss of the ability to think, reason and remember — developing later in the illness. In addition, this variant affects people at a younger age than classic CJD does and appears to have a slightly longer duration — 12 to 14 months.

Sept. 09, 2015