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Patients May Have Been Exposed to Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease

English: Spongiform Change in CJD

It is true. Patients may have been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. This disturbing news comes as health officials confirmed on Friday, September 20, 2013, that a neurosurgery patient at a New Hampshire hospital this past spring did have the rare fatal brain disorder.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a rare, degenerative, fatal brain disorder. It is sometimes confused with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia because its early signs and symptoms are like those of these other conditions. However, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease advances much faster than Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

What this means is that 15 other people in two other states besides New Hampshire may have been exposed to this fatal rare brain infection. The means of possible exposure was potentially tainted surgical equipment.

Shared equipment


Earlier this month health officials in New Hampshire let 8 people in New Hampshire know that they may have been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease by means of shared equipment. 5 other people were warned of possible exposure in Massachusetts and 2 others in Connecticut.

The initial patient had surgery at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire. This is where the 8 people in New Hampshire who may have been exposed were also treated.

The 5 people in Massachusetts had surgery at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The 2 people in Connecticut were treated at Veterans Affairs Hospital in West Haven, Connecticut.

Variant form


The initial patient had sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. This is a form of the disease that develops spontaneously. It is not the variant form that results in a human kind of “mad cow disease” and is connected to eating beef that is contaminated with the cattle version that is known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The thing that brought about the possible exposure to the disorder was that standard hospital disinfection techniques do not get rid of the prion that is responsible for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. A prion is a protein. The kind that results in Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is misfolded. It somehow gets other prions to change into shape that causes disease.

The people who may have been exposed in Connecticut and Massachusetts all received treatment that used a guided imaging navigation system, which is manufactured by Medtronic Inc., in addition to surgical tools that go with it. Other patients received treatment with tools that came from other manufacturers.

More than one hospital


Hospitals often share high-cost neurosurgery equipment on a rental or fee-for-use basis. This is why the same surgical equipment was used in more than one hospital.

Autopsy results on the initial patient did come back positive for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Dr. Jose Montero, the New Hampshire director of public health, said in a statement, “Though we are not surprised by the test results, we are saddened by the toll this disease takes on families and our sympathies go out to all those affected.” There is no way to confirm the disease apart from an autopsy following a patient’s death.

According to Dr. Joseph Pepe, president and CEO of Catholic Medical Center, the risk of infection is very low. There is no treatment and no cure for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to hospital or medical negligence, contact a personal injury attorney.
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