Spongiform encephalopathy is a lesser known type of dementia, but equally important. When we talk about dementia, we always tend to think about Alzheimer’s disease. But there are many other, more silent types of dementia that affect thousands of people.
To begin, it is important to dig a little deeper and know the definition of dementia. Dementia is a clinical plurietiological syndrome that involves intellectual deterioration with respect to a previous level, usually chronic. This syndrome is not necessarily irreversible or progressive. Although the intellectual deterioration implies an affectation of the functional capacities of the subject. Enough to interfere with his socio-labor activities.
Focusing on the topic that concerns us today, spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a dementia of infectious origin caused by prions. It is degenerative and appears spontaneously. Or by genetic inheritance. The incidence is one or two cases per 100,000 inhabitants (Vich, 2006).
Causes of CJD disease
As we have said before, spongiform encephalopathy is of infectious origin. This is caused by prions. A prion is an altered. Or malformed protein that has the ability to modify similar proteins in our body and get to cause infections.
The incubation period of the disease can be very long . However, once the symptoms begin to be felt, the course becomes fast and progressive. This causes death almost 90% of cases a year of the first symptoms.
This protein affects the brain and nervous system . It causes many holes in this, which ends up giving a sponge shape. Hence the term spongiform. Although it is not known with certainty. It is believed that this disease can come in three ways (Vich, 2006):
- Intake of meat from sick bovine animals.
- Genetics, due to the mutation in the gene that encodes the prion protein, which conditions an autosomal dominant disease.
- Occasionally, iatrogenic origin.
Symptoms of spongiform encephalopathy
Some of the symptoms that can be identified in people with spongiform encephalopathy are:
- Depression. Sadness, anhedonia, feeling of being a burden, lack of hope, etc., that cause significant discomfort or loss of functionality.
- Delirio. It is a false idea or a misinterpretation of reality. Kraepelin defines them as “psychic error that ensues to a pathological cause and whose justification. And rectification is resistant to logical argumentation.
- Hallucination. It is a false perception of objects or events and is sensory in nature. The person feels, smells, hears … something that is not really there or is not happening. Esquirol says of them that they are sensations really perceived, without object close to the reach of the senses.
Ataxia. It involves the loss of coordination in movements, clumsiness or stiffness.
- Memory loss.
- Difficulty speaking.
- Difficulty swallowing.
Forms of prevention
This disease, like other diseases that occur as dementia, has no treatment. Therefore, it is recommended to take preventive measures whenever the authorities deem it appropriate:
Active and passive surveillance programs for the rapid detection of affected animals, both on the farm and in the slaughterhouse.
- Prohibition of meat and bone meal from mammals. As well as of animal proteins transformed into the feeding of animals destined for human consumption.
- Veterinary inspections in livestock farms. It is also advisable to monitor warehouses and feed factories intended for the feeding of ruminants.
- Sacrifice of potentially infected animals.
- Do not consume meat in which there is no guarantee of safety.
However, whenever there is a suspicion that there may be a contagion or doubts arise about the disease. It is advisable to go to a professional who guides us. Health professionals are the only ones who can give us a reliable diagnosis and action measures.
What is peripheral nephropathy?
The peripheral nervous system (PNS) is the network of nerves that is outside the central nervous system (formed by the brain and spinal cord) and whose job is to transmit signals about physical sensations from the periphery to the brain.
When these nerves work badly, because they are damaged or destroyed, this is a peripheral neuropathy.
- The SNP includes different types of nerves with their own specific functions ; Some types are:
- Sensory nerves (responsible for transmitting sensations, such as pain and touch).
- Motor nerves (responsible for controlling muscles).
- Autonomic nerves (responsible for regulating the body’s automatic functions. such as blood pressure and bladder function).
Peripheral nephropathy can affect a group of nerves or all three together. In any case, when a peripheral nephropathy occurs, the normal functioning of the nerves is interrupted. So that they can send pain signals when there is nothing that causes it, or they can not send a painful signal even if something is causing damage.
This nerve involvement may be due to a wound, a systemic disease, an infection or a hereditary disorder.