Is there any risk to others handling the body of a patient with suspected CJD?

CJD is a transmissible disease but is not contagious in the usual ways associated with viruses and bacteria and therefore cannot be transmitted from person to person by normal contact. The body of a patient with suspected CJD should be treated the same as any other deceased patient. There are no special precautions that need to be taken prior to the autopsy.

Does the funeral home have to take special precaution?

    • If the body of a suspected CJD patient has not undergone an autopsy then transportation, preparation, disinfection and final disposition can be safely perform when standard precautions are observed.
    • If the body of a CJD patient has undergone a brain autopsy then a higher level of precautions are needed only after the autopsy.

Refer CJD Infection Control Guidelines, page 12 re: recommended precautions.

Can the body of a patient with suspected CJD be cremated or buried?

Families are free to choose either cremation or burial for their loved one.

Are there facilities in each state where the autopsy on a patient with suspected CJD can safely be preformed?

Yes, there are specific morgues where autopsies can be performed safely.

Are there infection control precautions taken during and after the autopsy has been done?

Yes. The autopsy is performed at designated mortuary facilities in each state by staff trained in CJD infection control procedures. Although the revised CJD infection control guidelines now suggest that a viewing after an autopsy should not be prohibited there are issues in relation to reconstruction that still need to be overcome as the body will need to be managed in a manner to avoid contact with infectious brain tissue.

Can the body of a patient with suspected CJD be embalmed?

Yes – although embalming of a patient with suspected CJD is discouraged the follow applies:

      • For a patient with suspected CJD where the body has not been autopsied embalming can be safely performed.
      • For a patient with suspected CJD where the body has been autopsied embalming and restorative work can safely be preformed, if necessary

Refer CJD Infection Control Guidelines, Embalming page 13 re recommended precautions.