Man diagnosed with human version of mad cow disease


Doctors say a 32-year-old Tennessee man has been diagnosed with the human version of mad cow disease.

The rare disorder is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Tony Gibson of Lebanon, a town near Nashville, was diagnosed with the disease about a year ago.

Gibson’s wife tells WTVF she took him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center when he started acting strange and forgetful.

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

After conducting multiple tests, a neurologist diagnosed him with the rare brain disorder. Patients who suffer from the disorder can become anxious, depressed and confused.

“This is a very tragic disease because there is no treatment,” Dr. William Schaffner said. “The patients sink into this withdrawal, semi-comatose state.”

Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist, tells WTVF the disease progresses quickly. He says it only impacts about 300 people a year in the United States.

According to WTVF, there are different forms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease that can develop randomly, genetically or after being exposed to infected human tissue during a medical procedure. The Gibsons aren’t sure how Tony got the disorder.

His wife says 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,” she said. “But this has to be the worst. It’s unreal what I’ve seen this man go through.”

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