Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center announced Monday they are reaching out to 18 neurosurgery patients exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that is incurable and invariably fatal.

“Today we are reaching out to 18 neurosurgery patients who were exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease over the last three weeks at Forsyth Medical Center,” said Jeff Lindsay, President of Forsyth Medical Center.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative, invariably fatal brain disorder.

CJD affects about one person in every one million people per year worldwide.

“While the CDC categorizes such risks as “very low,” any risk of transmission is simply unacceptable,” said Lindsay. ”On behalf of the entire team, I apologize to the patients and their families for this anxiety. We are committed to providing support to patients and their families.”

CJD has been closely associated with mad cow disease (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy), however Dr. Jim Lederer said this particular strain is not associated with mad cow disease.

“The patient had sporadic CJD. This is important to note, because it is often incorrectly associated with mad cow disease. It is not,” said Dr. Jim Lederer.

Forsyth Medical said the exposure occurred through surgical instruments that were not properly sterilized.

The surgical instruments used during the surgery were sterilized using standard hospital procedures, however they were not subjected to the enhanced sterilization procedures necessary on instruments used in confirmed or suspected cases of CJD.

“I have a two year old to live for and mommy might not be here,” said Amanda Morin, who entered Forsyth Medical Center last month for back surgery. She says a hospital staff member contacted her Monday saying she is one of 18 patients who may have been exposed to the disease.

“[Novant staff member] say that it’s not the hospitals fault but they are taking full responsibility.”


Forsyth Medical Center says 18 patients exposed to deadly disease | MyFOX8.com (external - login to view)