BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – The Massachusetts Dept. of Health says it has identified five Cape Cod Hospital patients as "low risk" for exposure to a rare brain disease that has killed one person in New Hampshire.
DPH officials said the five patients were possibly exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease during surgical procedures performed with a potentially contaminated instrument.
Officials believe the same device was used on a patient who died following brain surgery at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester in May.
Catholic Medical Center's President, Dr. Joseph Pepe, said that nearly 90-percent of cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease happen spontaneously, when an agent causes proteins in the brain to incorrectly fold. And because those abnormal proteins can survive standard sterilization practices, there is a small risk of exposure for those who had surgery after the patient who died.
Officials believe as many as 13 people in multiple states were exposed to the fatal disease between June and August. Officials said the Cape Cod hospital patients underwent spinal surgery and not brain surgery, and their risk of CJD is "extremely low."
CJD is a rare and fatal disease that affects the nervous system and causes deterioration of the brain. About 200 people are diagnosed with it in the United States every year.