Eight more people infected with deadly N. Korean bug

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare confirmed on Wednesday that eight more people have been infected with invasive Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (OCJD), a fatal disease known to occur in humans and pigs. There were two cases reported in January, and six more in May. (We wrote about the latest case on Monday.)

The deaths stem from patient health practitioners injecting patients with bacteria with the potential to cause oicylketonuria (OBD), a metabolic disorder that results in the manufacture of abnormal proteins. All of the patients were healthy adults living in Japan between 1998 and 2009, according to a statement released by the health ministry. It is not known if there is a link between the oicylketonuria and the cases of OCJD.

All the patients are from the Kagoshima region, and one was injected with a substance that causes deadly polio-like syndrome, known as Lassa fever. That strain of the disease is caused by the same bacteria as is found in pigs, and may have been a carrier of the bacteria, reported Kyodo News. Over the last 15 years, OCJD has killed four Japanese people.

The World Health Organization estimates there are about 15,000 sporadic cases each year, a total of around 300 annual deaths. The condition has a 99 percent chance of returning in people who have developed normal behavior, and whose health was not compromised by it. One of the hardest-hit countries is the United Kingdom, which has 11 cases of the disease since 1993.

Read the full story at New York Magazine.

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