Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease

Officials believe one person may have died from a rare, degenerative and incurable condition called Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and that 13 other patients may have been exposed to it. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Up to 13 Patients May Have Been Exposed to the Disease

Authorities at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire notified eight of its patients who may have been exposed to the rare disease through surgical equipment, reports the Daily Mail. Hospitals in other states are working to do the same for five additional patients because some of the surgical equipment was rented and used elsewhere after being used. The hospital also assigned a staffer to work with the potentially exposed patients, whom Dr. Joseph Pepe, president of the hospital, said range in age from mid-30s to mid-80s.

“They took it very well,” Pepe said.” I don’t believe that people were angry or extremely emotionally upset. We did the best job we could in trying to alleviate their fear.”

2. One Patient Died from the Disease in August

Authorities at the hospital in Manchester said on Wednesday that they believe one person who had brain surgery in May died of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in August. Officials are 95 percent sure that the patient died from the disease. The equipment used on the patient has been quarantined pending autopsy results.

3. The Disease Can Survive Standard Sterilization

Doctors say that the fatal disease can survive standard sterilization. Last year, Greenville Hospital System in South Carolina began increasing the temperature used to sterilize its surgical equipment after a patient was discovered to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob. However, according to Pepe, the measures required to eliminate all traces of the disease would effectively render the equipment unusable.

4. The Disease Progresses Rapidly Once Symptoms Appear

The disease progresses rapidly once symptoms appear and is always fatal, usually within a few months. However, the symptoms can take decades to show up. Symptoms include behavior changes, memory loss, impaired coordination and other neurological problems.

5. It Affects One in Every One Million People

Accordin to the National Institutes of Health, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease affects about one person in every one million people per year worldwide. There are about 200 cases per year in the United States.