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Your Eyes Are The Key To Transmission Of A Deadly Brain Disease, Doctors Say

Your Eyes Are The Key To Transmission Of A Deadly Brain Disease, Doctors Say
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This is something you would see on Doctor Who. A fatal brain disease that can spread by contact with the eyes. It's rare, but here's what you should know about Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is "a rare, incurable neurological disease characterized by a progressive decline in motor control and cognitive ability that leads, ultimately, to a comatose state and death."

Recently scientists have noticed that the disease seeds itself throughout the eyes of patients, so a simple eye test may be able to tell if someone is suffering from the disease. We don't have that eye test yet, but we do know that this disease can spread via contact with a patient's eyes.

It can take up to 30 years for symptoms to present once prions are transmitted, but once they do, it's often only a few months until death.

"Surgeons could unknowingly contaminate their instruments with prions," wrote Christina Sigurdson, a pathologist at the University of California, San Diego, in a new piece of research testing the accuracy of a possible eye test. She also implied that researchers, going forward, would be testing the tears of sJCD patients, in order to see if the prions would be possible to transmit via crying.

The easiest way to stay safe is simply switching equipment from patient to patient, which would require safe equipment disposal. Currently, the only way to detect the disease is through spinal tap, which doctors are hoping will not be the case in a few years.

"[This test] really suggests we could develop a diagnostic, eye-based assay," Sigurdson said.

The closer scientists come to understanding the functionality of the fatal disease, the sooner it looks like they can get to work on some sort of cure. Currently there is no cure or effective treatment, and deterioration is sudden and quick.

H/T: IFL Science, Gizmodo