Surgical gear quarantined over rare brain disease

by Holly Ramer

New Hampshire public health officials believe one person died of a rare, degenerative brain disease, and there's a remote chance up to 13 others in multiple states were exposed to it through surgical equipment.

Dr. Joseph Pepe, president of Catholic Medical Center, says officials are 95 percent certain that a patient who had brain surgery in May and died in August had sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob (KROYTS'-feld YAH'-kuhb) disease.

Officials have notified eight people who had brain surgery during that time period, because the faulty proteins that cause the disease can survive standard sterilization. The disease has only been transmitted that way four times, never in the United States.

Some of the surgical instruments had been rented, and officials say up to five patients in other states could have been exposed.

The equipment has been quarantined.

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