REPORT: “New Hampshire patient likely died of rare brain disease” — Click here to read this article by the Associated Press, dated Sept. 5, 2013.

UPDATED: NBC News reported on September 21, 2013 (click here to read the report), that, yes, a neurosurgery patient treated at a New Hampshire hospital this spring did have a rare brain disorder known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), which mean that 15 other patients in three states may have been exposed to this invariably deadly infection through potentially tainted surgical equipment.

Highlighted quotes of this Associated Press article include:

  • “Public health officials believe one person in New Hampshire has died of a rare, degenerative brain disease, and say there’s a remote chance up to 13 others in multiple states were exposed to the fatal illness through surgical equipment.”

Click here to read Dr. Muscarella’s related and detailed blog “Risk of Transmission of Creutzfeltd-Jakob Disease by Contaminated Surgical Instruments.”

  • This disease — known as sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or CJD — “progresses rapidly once symptoms appear and is always fatal, usually within a few months.”

Only four cases of transmission via surgical instruments have been recorded, none in the United States. — Associated Press.

  • Symptoms — which include “behavior changes, memory loss, impaired coordination and other neurological problems” — can take decades to present themselves. This disease is a rare and fatal brain condition that is similar to “mad cow” disease.

This disease creates a dilemma for staff in charge of reprocessing reusable instrumentation used on those patients potentially infected with it. — Lawrence F Muscarella PhD

Other important facts discussed in this article by the Associated Press include:

  • The causative agent of this disease are prions, which are abnormal proteins that can survive standard sterilization practices.

— Therefore, there is a risk, if a very remote one, that the reuse of surgical instruments used on an patient infected with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease could transmit infectious prions to subsequent patients.

  • As a result, “the hospital has notified eight of its patients who may have been exposed” to these potentially contaminated surgical instruments.

This article by the Associated Press adds that:

  • “The disease can be verified only through a brain biopsy or autopsy. New Hampshire officials are still awaiting those results.”
  • Patients in other states may be at risk, too, because “some of the surgical equipment (used by this hospital in New Hampshire) was rented and used” at other hospitals in other states.

Only disposable equipment would completely eliminates any risk of this disease’s transmission during surgery — Lawrence F Muscarella PhD

  • “Worldwide, Creutzfeldt-Jakob affects about one person in every one million each year; in the United States, about 200 cases are recorded annually, according to the National Institutes of Health.”

! Click here to read about an auditing program developed by Dr. Muscarella specifically designed to assist help facilities prevent infection-control and instrument-reprocessing breaches.

  • This disease creates a reprocessing dilemma, because “measures required to eliminate all traces of the proteins would effectively render the equipment unusable.”

Blog by Lawrence F Muscarella, PhD; posted 9-5-2013; updated 9-23-2013.

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