• Researchers: Man dies after contracting disorder after eating squirrel brains

    By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    A New York hunter’s penchant for eating squirrel brains may have led to his death from a rare neurological disorder. 

    The 61-year-old man, whose name hasn’t been released, had brain scans that looked like those who suffer from a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (or vCJD). It’s a deadly condition that is connected to the consumption of contaminated meat, Inside Edition reported.

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    The man’s family said that he was an avid hunter who had previously eaten squirrel brains, according to Live Science, which was the first to report the story.

    Researchers are not sure if the man ate the entire brain or if the meat from the rest of the squirrel was contaminated with pieces of brain matter, Live Science reported.

    Shortly before his death, his family said he suffered from psychosis and schizophrenia. He also had lost his ability to walk. 

    Dr. Tara Chen, a resident at Rochester Regional Health, did not treat the man, who died in 2016, but did examine his case while she researched a report on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease at the hospital over five years, according to Live Science

    Chen’s report was presented earlier this month during a meeting of organizations discussing infectious diseases.

    Other people whose medical records Chen examined who have the disease included a hotel housekeeper, a janitor, a chemist who somehow ate dog food, and a woman who had undergone surgery.

    Those who contract CJD usually die within a year of being infected. There is no treatment or cure. About 1 in a million people come down with CJD in the world, with about 350 cases in the U.S. each year, according to the National Institutes of Health.

    CJD occurs when proteins called prions leave holes in the brain, according to the NIH.

    CJD was in the news when people in the U.K. ate contaminated beef after a mad cow disease outbreak.

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