A rare brain-eating disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or CJD, has surfaced in New Hampshire. The disease is caused by a mutated protein that eats away at the brain. It's not to be confused with the other brain-eating amoeba illness that recently killed a 12-year-old boy in Florida. Doctors in New Hampshire are worried the CJD may have been transmitted to eight other patients via surgical equipment, according to NECN on Thursday, Sept. 5.
An elderly patient was treated at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, N.H., for a cyst which was surgically removed from his brain. The man returned to the hospital last month with symptoms of CJD. Tests confirmed he carried the mutated protein.
The was reportedly no way for doctors to know ahead of time that the patient carried the deadly mutated protein. There is no screening test for the disease. The man has since passed away from the illness.
What doctors know about CJD is limited. It’s not a virus nor a bacteria, and it can "sporadically occur", and doctors aren't sure why. It sounds like something out of a horror movie.
You may have the protein for decades before symptoms like dementia, loss of memory, and lack of balance develop. But, once they do, the average life expectancy is only four months, according to Catholic Medical Center CEO Dr. Joseph Pepe.
Doctors now fear eight other people may have been exposed to the illness since the same surgical equipment was used on them.
"The issue is that after you diagnose CJD you know that regular standard type of cleaning doesn't always get rid of the particles that cause CJD", said N.H. Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero.
They say even more people could be affected since the particular surgical equipment was on loan from a company called Medtronic.
Montero said that piece of medical equipment was later sent outside the state of New Hampshire, and was used in other states at multiple hospitals.
Medtronic has released a statement saying they are assisting the hospitals and the appropriate state health authorities as they "manage" the situation.
Doctors point out that the general public shouldn't panic over this disease, since there have only been four cases in the world that were actually contracted because of surgical instruments.
Medical experts say you only have a one in one million chance of contracting CJD.