Meat Inspector Dies From Rare Brain Disease
A meat inspector and keen hunter was killed by a rare brain disease linked to the human form of mad cow disease. John Andrews, 63, of Napier is one of five New Zealanders confirmed to have died of the sporadic form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) this year.
His widow, Lyn, is now speaking out about the mysterious disease that saw Mr Andrews go from thinking he had an ear infection in April, to suffering stroke-like, brain-wasting symptoms. He died in June.
CJD is a rare, unexplained brain disease that rapidly and severely affects the brain, has no cure and is eventually fatal.
It is a different form of the disease variant CJD that struck Britain in the 1990s through probable human consumption of meat contaminated with bovine spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) – known as mad cow disease.
The doctor who runs New Zealand’s register of CJD cases believes Mr Andrews’ career and cause of death are purely coincidental, but a “point of interest” nonetheless.
Mrs Andrews said her husband went on antibiotics for a suspected ear infection when he felt “something was going on in his head”. He then forgot his bank pin number, and could not hold a pen.
He developed drunk-sounding speech, suffered seizures and within weeks could not swallow, eat or talk.
“He was a real solid hunting, fishing man. He was just so well, and then boom.
“People should think about it when someone suffers from depression or what looks like early stages of dementia.”
She commended Hawke’s Bay Hospital staff, but even they were “baffled” by his symptoms, she said.