Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease surveillance in Australia: update to 31 December 2018

Christiane Stehmann, Matteo Senesi, Victoria Lewis, Mairin Ummi, Marion Simpson, Genevieve Klug, Catriona McLean, Colin Masters, Steven Collins

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Nationwide surveillance of human prion diseases (also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies), the most common being Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), is performed by the Australian National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Registry (ANCJDR), based at the University of Melbourne. National surveillance encompasses the period since 1 January 1970, with prospective surveillance occurring from 1 October 1993. Over this prospective surveillance period considerable developments have occurred in relation to pre-mortem diagnostics, the delineation of new disease subtypes and a heightened awareness of prion diseases in health care settings. Surveillance practices of the ANCJDR have evolved and adapted accordingly. This report summarises the activities of the ANCJDR from 1 January to 31 December 2018. Since the ANCJDR began offering diagnostic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 14-3-3 protein testing in Australia in September 1997, the annual number of referrals has steadily increased. In 2018, 465 domestic CSF specimens were referred for 14-3-3 protein testing and 78 persons with suspected human prion disease were formally added to the national register. The majority of the 78 suspect case notifications remain as of 31 December 2018 classified as "incomplete" (42 cases), while eleven cases were excluded by either detailed clinical follow-up (one case) or neuropathological examination (ten cases); 15 cases were classified as "definite" and ten as "probable" prion disease. Sixty-two percent of all suspected human prion disease related deaths underwent neuropathological examination. No cases of variant CJD were confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalCommunicable Diseases Intelligence
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • disease surveillance
  • prion disease
  • transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

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