Health protection – collection

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD): guidance, data and analysis

The characteristics, diagnosis, management, surveillance and epidemiology of CJD.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare and ultimately fatal degenerative brain disease. It is one of a group of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) that affect humans and animals. TSEs are thought to be caused by the build up of an abnormal form of the naturally occurring ‘prion’ protein in the brain.

Variant CJD is likely to be caused by consuming meat from a cow that has been infected with a similar prion disease called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as ‘mad cow disease’.

Iatrogenic CJD is very rare, and occurs when CJD is accidentally transmitted as a result of medical or surgical exposures.

For symptoms and general information on CJD, visit NHS Choices.

Diagnosis and management

Neurologists and other clinicians should follow the National referral system when reporting CJD cases. Clinicians are also invited to discuss suspected cases with the National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit (NCJDRSU) or National Prion Clinic. Further diagnostic information about CJD can be found on the NCJDRSU website.

Advice on infection control related to dentistry can be found on the National Archives (TNA) website.

CJD Risk analyses and assessments are also available.

  1. Minimise transmission risk of CJD and vCJD in healthcare settings

    • 13 May 2013
    • Guidance
  2. CJD: information leaflets for patients and healthcare professionals

    • 30 May 2013
    • Promotional material
  3. CJD: public health action following report of new case or person at increased risk

    • 30 January 2014
    • Guidance


The National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit (NCJDRSU) releases monthly information on the number of suspected CJD cases referred for diagnosis and followup, and the number of deaths of definite and probable cases in the UK.

The NCJDRSU also provides an annual update on the work of the unit in the previous 12 months, reflecting the unit’s core surveillance work.

  1. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) surveillance: biannual updates

    • 13 February 2015
    • Research and analysis