State and federal health officials are trying to get to the bottom of nine reported cases of suspected sporadic CJD in Idaho this year. Sporadic, or naturally occurring, CJD differs from the permutation dubbed variant CJD, which is caused by eating mad-cow-tainted beef and has killed at least 180 people in the United Kingdom and continental Europe since the 1990s.
"One thing is very clear in Idaho _ the number seems to be higher than the number reported in previous years," said Dr. Ermias Belay, a CJD expert with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "So far, the investigations have not found any evidence of any exposure that might be common among the cases."
Normally, sporadic CJD only strikes about one person in a million each year, with an average of just 300 cases per year in the United States, or just over one case a year in Idaho. Over the past two decades, the most cases reported in Idaho in a single year has been three.
Until this year...