Tennessee man diagnosed with human version of Mad Cow Disease

A Tennessee man has been diagnosed with a disease few have heard of, it's Cruetzfeldt-Jackob Disease. Also known as CJD, it's the human equivalent to Mad Cow Disease. The diagnosis has changed his family's lives forever. (Courtesy: WTVF, Gibson family, CNN Newsource)

Nashville, TN — A Tennessee man has been diagnosed with a disease few have heard of, it's Cruetzfeldt-Jackob Disease. Also known as CJD, it's the human equivalent to Mad Cow Disease. The diagnosis has changed his family's lives forever.

WTVF reported that the patient, 32-year-old Tony Gibson, was a happy and healthy father until his symptoms began to show one year ago.

His Danielle Gibson, said he started acting strangely, and that he became very forgetful.

"I had to start labeling the rooms in our home. He would get lost going to the grocery store, and someone would call me and say we have your husband," said Danielle.

Tony's behavior continued, so Danielle took him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. After doctors ordered multiple tests on her husband, Danielle said a neurologist made a shocking discovery.

"But he said the worst case scenario being CJD, I said what is that? He said it is the human form of mad cow disease," Danielle said.

Infectious disease specialists at Vanderbilt, Dr. William Schaffner, did not work on Tony's case, but he says CJD typically impacts about 300 people a year in the United States.

Schaffner said, "CJD or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is rare brain disorder." Patients with the condition can become anxious, depressed, confused, and the disease progresses quickly. "This is a very tragic disease because there is no treatment, the patients sink into this withdrawal, semi-comatose state," said Schaffner.

CJD has different forms that can develop randomly, genetically, or after being exposed to infected human tissue during a medical procedure.

Danielle says she does not know how her husband got CJD. She added that he now requires 24-hour care at a nursing home.

"This is the most devastating thing. I've seen ALS, I've seen a lot of terrible things, but this has to be the worst," said Danielle.

Danielle hopes Tony's struggles can help educate others about the unusual disease and its symptoms. WTVF reports that she will stay by his side while he fights the disease.

"It's unreal, what I've seen this man go through," said Danielle.

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