Prion Disease History and Transmission in a Medical Setting


For decades, prion disease has been of great concern to doctors, but it made headlines in the 1980s and 1990s because of mass infections of cattle in Great Britain. This led to the destruction of millions of cows and caused concern regarding the consumption of potentially infected beef. Although rare, human infection by abnormal prion proteins can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Kuru and other transmissible spongioform encephalopathies. In this lecture Dr. Hale presents a brief history of what is known about prion proteins, their structure, infectivity, and the current state of prion diseases as well as strategies for working with possibly infectious specimens or materials in a healthcare setting.

Originally presented on June 7, 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lecture Presenter

Devon C. Hale, MD

Devon C. Hale, MD

Professor of Internal Medicine and Pathology
University of Utah School of Medicine
Assistant Dean, International Medical Education
University of Utah School of Medicine

Dr. DeVon C. Hale is board certified in infectious diseases with a specialized practice and background in travel medicine and tropical diseases. He is the Medical Director for the International Travel Clinic at University Hospital and has successfully completed the Certificate of Knowledge Exam in Tropical Diseases and Travelers Health sponsored by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and holds a certificate in Travel Health from the International Society of Travel Medicine. Dr. Hale graduated from the University of Utah in 1969 and completed an internship at Ohio State University Hospitals in 1970 with a residency at Kern County Medical Center, California, in 1974. He went on to complete a fellowship in Infectious Diseases in 1975 at Irvine Medical Center, California, with an additional fellowship in Clinical Microbiology at the University of Utah in 1979. As Assistant Dean of International Medical Education, Dr. Hale directs and participates in medical projects in Ghana and Kenya, Africa. He has visited over 40 countries to evaluate health risks and medical care and is a Co-Director of an early warning system, called GeoSentinel, sponsored by the International Society of Travel Medicine and funded by the Center for Disease Control.


After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the history of prion related diseases
  • Discuss the status of current prion diseases
  • Discuss prion transmission in a medical setting

Sponsored by:

University of Utah School of Medicine, and ARUP Laboratories