| BOSTON, Sept 5
BOSTON, Sept 5 Thirteen people who recently
underwent neurosurgery in Massachusetts and New Hampshire may
have been exposed to a rare and fatal brain condition similar to
"mad cow" disease in cattle because of a medical device used in
both states, state officials said.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said on
Thursday that five patients treated at Cape Cod Hospital between
June and August are at low risk of infection for the disease,
called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). On Wednesday, New
Hampshire announced eight patients may have been exposed.
The New Hampshire patients were treated at a hospital in
Manchester, state officials said.
"The risk of CJD exposure from the instrument was first
identified by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human
Services after the device was used on a patient in New
Hampshire, who was subsequently suspected to have CJD," the
Massachusetts health body said in a press release.
"The CJD risk to the Massachusetts patients is extremely
low, as those patients underwent spinal surgery and not brain
surgery," it said.
A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts health body, Anne Roach,
said the device was from Medtronic Inc, but she could not
immediately identify it or explain how it could have remained
infected over the course of months. Medtronic had not responded
to Reuters in time for this story.
New Hampshire had warned on Wednesday that eight patients
who recently underwent neurosurgery at a hospital in Manchester
may have been exposed to the rare and fatal brain condition as a
result of a surgery on a ninth patient, believed to have had a
sporadic form of CJD.
Officials in both states said there is no risk to the
general public and that all the patients have been notified.
CJD is similar to "mad cow" disease but not linked to beef
consumption. In the sporadic form, it crops up spontaneously
without a known cause. There is no known treatment or cure for
the condition, which has symptoms including failing memory,
personality changes, blindness and sudden jerky movements, the
health department said.
"After extensive expert discussion, we could not conclude
that there was no risk, so we are taking the step of notifying
the patients," Dr. Jose Montero, New Hampshire's director of
public health, said on Wednesday.