Roscommon woman’s death from CJD a ‘most unusual thing’

Pathologist tells inquest condition affects ‘about one person per million’ worldwide

A Co Roscommon woman’s death after contracting sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) was described as a ‘most unusual thing’ by a juror at an inquest on Wednesday.

A Co Roscommon woman’s death after contracting sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) was described as a ‘most unusual thing’ by a juror at an inquest on Wednesday.

 

A Co Roscommon woman’s death after contracting sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) was described as a “most unusual thing” by a juror at an inquest on Wednesday.

Margaret Beirne, of Clooneen, Frenchpark, died on October 5th last at Roscommon University Hospital, a Coroner’s Court in Ballaghaderreen was told.

Geraldine Keane, whose deposition was read into the record by Garda Sgt Deirdre Coleman, recalled visiting Ms Beirne at 11.40am on October 5th and forming the view that she had passed away.

Ms Beirne’s daughter, Mary Moran said her mother “passed away suddenly” and was formally identified by her at 4.15pm that day.

Garda Niall McKenna said he had been made aware that a postmortem might be required and Ms Beirne’s body was brought to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, where the examination was carried out the following day.

Pathologist Francesca Brett said she formed a view that the deceased died from the effects of CJD, a condition she described “as causing progressive neurological generative disorder.”

‘Rapidly’

Dr Brett said the symptoms of CJD “developed rapidly” and that the average lifespan for someone with the condition “was generally one year”.

She said she was informed that the deceased had previously visited Tallaght Hospital feeling unwell but her condition was not deemed to be severe. She the rate of progression of Ms Beirne’s condition indicated the presence of CJD.

Dr Brett said the diagnosis was based on clinical impressions of MRI scans, allowing her to make “a presumptive diagnosis”. She said a “definitive diagnosis comes with the results of the autopsy” recalling that only the deceased’s brain was examined, due to the risk of infection.

The rate of diagnosis of CJD “was about one person per million persons worldwide,” Dr Brett said, adding that CJD “wasn’t something you would know that you have”.

She said the disease was a “prion” which worked on the brain, causing neurological damage. The inquest heard the disease is linked to consuming meat from cattle with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Jury foreman Michael Scally asked if the deceased could have acquired CJD from being in contact with cattle, but Dr Brett said this was not the case.

Mr Scally said the case “was the most unusual thing and was the first time for the jury to hear a case like this”.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes in line with the medical evidence before the inquest, Coroner Desmond P O’Connor extended his sympathies to the Beirne family after what he described as a “ very rare form of death”.