Two Possibly Exposed to Fatal Brain Disease From Loaned Equipment

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCConnecticut.com

    Two patients who underwent surgery at the Veterans Affairs hospital in West Haven may have been exposed to a fatal brain disease, according to hospital authorities.

    A spokeswoman for the hospital said leased surgical equipment from New Hampshire was used to operate on the patients.

    That equipment had also been used on a patient who was pothumously diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, NBC News reports.

    Health officials confirmed the diagnosis on Friday, Sept. 20.

    The late patient's surgery took place at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and Catholic Medical Center.

    The New Hampshire hospital notified Veterans Affairs about the possible exposure on Aug. 28, according to a statement from the West Haven Veterans Affairs hospital. At the time the equipment was leased, the N.H. hospital was not aware of the possible diagnosis.

    Spokeswoman Pamela Redmond said both Connecticut patients have been informed of the situation.

    The patients underwent surgery in late May and early June. All surgical equipment and instruments were properly washed and sanitized prior to the surgeries, according to the VA hospital.

    A total of 15 people may have been exposed to the disease through the use of shared equipment, including eight in New Hampshire, five in Massachusetts and two in Connecticut.

    "Though we are not surprised by the test results, we are saddened by the toll this disease takes on families and our sympathies go out to all those affected," said New Hampshire Director of Public Health Dr. Jose Montero, in a statement.

    Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is characterized by rapidly progressive dementia which can cause death within months of symptoms first appearing.

    There is no treatment or cure.

    Authorities have said eight patients in New Hampshire and five in Massachusetts may also have been exposed to the disease.

    Connecticut Health Department spokesman William Gerrish says no other hospitals in the state are known to have received the potentially contaminated equipment.  

    Gerrish said neither the general public nor other patients at the VA Hospital is at risk for contracting the disease.