Hyannis, MA (CBS/WBZ) -- Thirteen people who recently underwent neurosurgery in Massachusetts and New Hampshire may have been exposed to a rare and fatal brain condition similar to "mad cow" disease.
The condition called CJD may have been spread with potentially infected surgical instruments, and health officials are now trying to find out for sure.
Five patients underwent spinal surgery at Cape Cod Hospital with the same potentially contaminated instruments used on a New Hampshire patient who likely died from CJD, a rare and fatal brain disease. Dr. Alfred Delmaria with the MA Dept of Public Health says, "The instruments are so specialized, they were carefully tracked, know exactly where they went."
The instruments in these neurosurgeries are rented by hospitals and were first used on the deceased patient at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire before making their way to Massachusetts, no one knowing at the time of surgery the patient had Croitsfeld-Yacob disease. Both hospitals now insisting the risk of getting the disease is low. Delmaria says, "I think most likely outcome is they will not develop a problem with this."
Patients in one other state might have been affected by this contaminated surgical equipment that is now quarantined at a lab in New Hampshire while officials await the official autopsy results and diagnose that original patient with CJD.