Dr. Ron Ostrom, Harvey L. Hall's personal physician, confirmed at a press conference Tuesday that the former mayor died from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a rare and fatal brain disorder.

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.”

(7) comments


If CJD can be diagnosed while the patient is still alive, can a person who has been exposed be diagnosed years ahead of symptoms?

Gary Crabtree

With a 1:1,000,000 chance of contracting this disease is it a coincidence that my nephew who also lived in Bakersfield died of this malady less than two years ago. So the odds if you live in Bakersfield are 1:500,000.


My dad worked closely with Mayor Hall as City Manager of Delano (1993-1997). My dad has Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease as well. Given the probable diagnosis of CJD in June of 2002 and passing 1 month after his 56th birthday on October 18, 2002 My deepest prayers and thoughts go to the Hall family.

So now add mad cow disease to the list of Kern County risks...


Just FYI... this disease can be inherited and/or spontaneous. It is even more rare that it would be caused by eating contaminated meat.


And mad cow disease is the slang for this disease.


Related, but different diseases.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.