A deadly prion disease: fatal familial insomnia.J Neurosci Nurs. 2003 Dec; 35(6):300-5.JN
Fatal familial insomnia (FFI) is an inherited disease caused by a mutation in the protein prion gene. Symptoms of FFI closely resemble those of familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, making genetic testing and histological examination of brain tissue the only means to determine a definitive diagnosis. The disease is rare--approximately 60 cases have been detected worldwide since 1986. Incubation time of the disease may be as long as 30 years; death generally occurs within 1 year of the onset of symptoms. There is no known procedure or treatment for delaying the onset of symptoms or modifying the disease course. Nurses who confront patients with FFI will be challenged to provide care to a patient and family who are facing certain death.