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15 Exposed to Fatal Brain Infection on Surgical Instruments

September 6, 2013 — At least 15 people who had spinal surgery at Cape Cod Hospital in Massachusetts were exposed to a deadly hospital infection called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), also known as the human “mad cow.”

Exposure occurred when surgeons used specialized tools that were previously used on a patient in New Hampshire with CJD.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued this statement:

“The potential exposure is limited to five Cape Cod Hospital patients who received procedures between June and August using the same device that was used on the New Hampshire patient. The CJD risk to the Massachusetts patients is extremely low, as those patients underwent spinal surgery and not brain surgery.”

It is extremely rare for transmission to occur on contaminated surgical instruments. The problem is that normal sterilization methods do not destroy CJD. Surgical instruments used on patients with CJD are normally destroyed.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is a rare but invariably fatal degenerative brain disease. It is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. The brain of people with advanced CJD resembles a sponge, with thousands of tiny holes. The disease causes a rapid dementia, progressive brain damage, and death.

Symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

  • Rapidly failing memory
  • Cognitive problems that get worse
  • Dementia
  • Personalty changes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Involuntary movements (jerking)
  • Blindness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Coma
  • Death

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