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Patients May Have Been Exposed To Rare Brain Disease In NH

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CONCORD, N.H. (CBS/AP) — The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services says a person has died from a rare, degenerative brain disease in the state and it’s possible other patients may be infected.

A news conference explaining the case of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Wednesday said the person died at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester.

Authorities say the victim had brain surgery there in May. The patient was later readmitted to the hospital with signs of rapidly advancing dementia.

Health officials say most reported cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease happen spontaneously, when an agent causes proteins in the brain to fold incorrectly. It is usually fatal.

The disease causes behavior changes, memory loss, falling down and other impaired coordination.

One way the disease is spread is through surgical tools that haven’t been sterilized for the protein that causes the disease.

Other cases involve a genetic mutation that is passed down among families, according to the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease foundation.

The hospital determined that the same tools used on the patient were also used on eight others. Five people outside of New Hampshire also may have been infected as tools used at the hospital were rented elsewhere.

While it’s unlikely the others will contract the disease, officials say it is possible.

Neurosurgery at Catholic Medical has been stopped until an autopsy report confirms the man died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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