18 North Carolina hospital patients exposed to rare brain disease

By Holly R. Bogardus,

Eighteen hospital patients may have been exposed to a rare brain disease due to improperly cleaned medical equipment.

The incident occurred at the Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Surgeons operated on 18 patients using tools that had not been properly sanitized after an operation on a patient who tested positive for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) on January 18, reports Fox News.

The disease is an incurable and fatal brain disorder. It causes failing memory, blindness, involuntary movement, and coma. CJD kills 90 percent of its patients within a year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The hospital said “the surgical instruments were sterilized using standard hospital procedures but were not subjected to the enhanced sterilization procedures necessary on instruments used in confirmed or suspected cases of CJD”, reports the Chicago Tribune .

Jeff Lindsay, president of the Winston-Salem hospital, had this to say: "While the CDC categorizes such risks as 'very low,' any risk of transmission is simply unacceptable. On behalf of the entire team, I apologize to the patients and their families for this anxiety. We are committed to providing support to patients and their families."

Though the chances of transmission are low, the hospital and state health officials are monitoring the patients closely.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons



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