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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Communicable  Diseases Subjects A-Z



Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Disease Reporting

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) 

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)

CJD is a rare incurable disease of humans that affects the nervous system and results in rapidly progressive dementia, loss of motor control, paralysis, and death. It is one of several related diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or TSEs for short. The term "encephalopathy" means the brain is affected, and the term "spongiform" refers to the microscopic holes seen in the brain, giving it a sponge-like appearance. 

Various animal species have distinct types of TSEs. In addition to CJD which affects humans, other TSEs include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as "mad cow disease"), scrapie in sheep and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk.

CJD is caused by an agent called a prion, that is a self-replicating protein. The current theory is that the normal form of the prion, found in all people, is converted into an abnormal form which causes cell death and the resulting brain lesions.

General information

CJD, TSE fact sheet (PDF, 80 KB)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Prion diseases - CDC (Exit DHS)

Information for health professionals

This is a Wisconsin disease surveillance category II disease: 
Report to the patient's local public health department electronically, through the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS), by mail or fax using an Acute and Communicable Disease case report F-44151 or by other means within 72 hours upon recognition of a case.
Information on communicable disease reporting

Wisconsin case reporting and public health follow-up guidelines: CJD, TSE EpiNet
Prion dementia information for Wisconsin medical providers Contacts

Wisconsin Local Health Departments - Regional offices - Tribal agencies

Last Revised: November 19, 2014