Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare brain disorder.


Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare brain disorder. It is caused by accumulations of an abnormal protein (prion) which harms brain cells. Typical symptoms include dementia, behavioural changes, movement disorders, and finally death. There is no effective treatment at present.


  • Development of dementia
  • Visual impairment
  • Sleep disorders
  • Balance disturbance, coordination disorders
  • Muscle contractions
  • Anxiety, delusions, depression

Causes and treatment


  • Misfolded proteins called prions gradually destroy brain cells

Protein misfolding can have the following causes:

  • Genetic, i.e. family history
  • Spontaneous gene mutation for unknown reasons
  • Human-to-human transmission (e.g. during a transplant or blood transfusion, but not through contact)
  • By eating contaminated beef (BSE)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • EEG (electroencephalogram)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid
Possible therapies
  • Unfortunately, there is no medication at present to treat Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; however, some of the symptoms can be reduced or alleviated

When to see a doctor?

  • Increasing forgetfulness that impairs everyday life
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Visual impairment
  • Sleep disorders Muscle contractions
  • Anxiety, delusions

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.