It was recently discovered in a New Hampshire hospital that a rare and deadly brain disease was found in a neurological patient who has since died. The condition called Creutzfeld-Jakob disease is similar to “mad cow” except that it is not contracted from beef consumption.
The problem with this disease is that it cannot be killed by normal sterilization techniques. The instruments that were used on the patient in NH may have been rented from a medical supply company as not all hospitals carry specialty instruments like the one used in this surgery. This means that the disease is on the instruments which are now moving from state to state.
Eight patients in Manchester, NH’s Catholic Medical Center are at risk of having been exposed to the disease and now two more in West Haven, CT are at risk as well after having surgery at the VA Hospital. More in Massachusetts are at risk of having been exposed, bringing the total to 15 so far, and there may be more from a fourth state. There is no danger to the public or to the hospital staff.
While it is not certain that the patient in NH had died from CJD, the results will be known in a few weeks when the autopsy results come back. The patient died exhibiting the signs of the disease, however. Unfortunately there is no treatment for this disease and no screenings for it either. Some of the symptoms include:
– Personality changes
– Memory loss
– Sudden jerky movements
The disease becomes fatal fairly quickly, within a matter of months. Officials from the NH and MA hospitals say that all of the patients who may have been exposed have been contacted.