Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Tuesday, that a 54-year old woman died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in November last year.
The incurable and invariably fatal brain disease has a long latent period and creates holes in the brain when an outbreak occurs.
Authorities believe the woman contracted the disease during brain surgery in 1987 when she received a transplanted membrane from overseas.
[Interview : Park Hye-kyung, Head of Infectious Diseases Surveillance
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
] "The deceased patient went through a brain tumor surgery and received a transplant of a dura mater called 'Lyodura' that was imported from Germany.
Her CJD symptoms appeared twenty-three years later, in June 2010."
Korea's health ministry, however, said that, there is NO correlation, between the woman's case, and the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which is often referred to as, human mad cow disease.
Currently there are four known types of CJDs.
The most common form is called sCJD, or sporadic CJD, which accounts for nearly 90 percent of all outbreaks and its cause is known to be natural mutation.
There is also the familial type of CJD, which is believed to be genetic.
The vCJD, or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is transmitted from cattle with mad cow disease.
This woman's case was Korea's first case of iCJD, or iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease which is caused by transplants of infected human tissues.
Some 400 iCJD cases have been reported in 20 countries throughout the world.
Doctors say that iCJD cases such as this one are very rare because the German manufacturer who supplied the membrane to the woman halted production of dura mater in 1987. and many producers have since reinforced preventive measures.
The World Health Organization also banned production of membranes from tissue extracted from corpses in 1997.
[Interview : Kim Yun-joong, Neurology professor
Hallym Medical School] "Most providers reinforced the inactivation of infectivity by raising the level of sodium hydroxide.
That is the reason why outbreaks rarely occured after 1987."
The Centers for Disease Control said that they will follow-up with other patients who went through similar surgeries in the '80s.. to trace whether there might be other cases.
Song Ji-sun, Arirang News.