Former Bakersfield Mayor Harvey L. Hall died from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, his personal physician confirmed Tuesday.
Dr. Ron Ostrom, who also serves as the medical director for Hall Ambulance Service Inc., confirmed the cause of Hall's May 19 death, speaking at a press conference called to clarify misinformation following an erroneous news report.
Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease is a degenerative and fatal brain disorder, a type of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or prion disease.
"It is incredibly rare," Ostrom said. "And like Mr. Hall being one in a million, the incidence of this is one in a million per year. Only about 300 cases of this sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease ... occur across the states each year. Mr Hall had the misfortune of having a sporadic form of this."
Ostrom said Hall had been in relatively good health prior to an episode of confusion on April 24, after which he was transported to Mercy Hospital Southwest and received a preliminary diagnosis of sporadic CJD. The diagnosis was later confirmed with a second opinion at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was transported on May 7.
"Unfortunately it was late in the process at that point in time," Ostrom said. "There is not a treatment for it."
On May 12, Hall returned to Bakersfield for hospice until his death. He was 77.
Hall’s death came just a few weeks after he had stepped down as president of Hall Ambulance, the company he founded in 1971. His wife, Lavonne, was named president.
Hall served as the 25th mayor of Bakersfield from 2001 through 2016. He decided not to seek a fifth term. Karen Goh succeeded him in January 2017.
A citywide celebration of Hall's life was held Saturday at Rabobank Arena.
“I know he loved being mayor,” City Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan said on first news of Hall's death. “He looked the part, acted the part, felt the part. He loved the city of Bakersfield and took his role very seriously. He always set a good example and was an excellent role model.”