As public health officials investigate the death of a surgical patient at Catholic Medical Center, the surgical equipment involved has been quarantined pending the outcome of an autopsy.
According to one media source, "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.
Dr. Joseph Pepe, president of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, said officials are 95 percent certain that a patient who had brain surgery in May and died in August had sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
The disease progresses rapidly once symptoms appear and is always fatal, usually within a few months. But the symptoms can take decades to show up. They include behavior changes, memory loss, impaired coordination and other neurological problems.
Nearly 90 percent of cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease happen spontaneously, when an agent causes proteins in the brain to fold incorrectly. And because those abnormal proteins can survive standard sterilization practices, there is a small risk of exposure for those who had surgery after the patient who died, Pepe said.
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