Variant creutzfeldt-jakob disease (vCJD)

When to suspect vCJD

Patients can present with fatigue, weight loss, headache, unsteadiness, involuntary movements and deficits in higher cortical function.

Usual causes

It’s linked with exposure to Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) also known as ‘Mad Cow Disease’ and is transmitted to humans after the consumption of meat from infected cows.
There is also a risk of transmission through blood transfusions, although it has not yet been reported in Australia.
In the United Kingdom however, there have been a small number of reported cases of putative transfusion transmission since 2004.
As a precaution, people who have spent a cumulative period of 6 months in the UK between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 1996 and/or had a transfusion in the UK between 1 January 1980 and the present time are not accepted as blood donors in Australia.


There are currently no routine available tests to predict or prevent vCJD from transmission by transfusion.
Clinically assess patients for neurodegenerative signs and symptoms.
Immediately consult with experts.

What to do

Seek expert advice and notify Lifeblood.