MANCHESTER, N.H., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- New Hampshire officials say there is an "extremely low risk" of infection for people who may have been exposed to surgical equipment used on a patient who died.
The patient died after undergoing neurological surgery this year at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, CNN reported Saturday.
Health officials have confirmed the patient suffered from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare, always-fatal degenerative brain disease.
"Though we are not surprised by the test results, we are saddened by the toll this disease takes on families," said Dr. Jose Montero, New Hampshire's public health director.
By the time the diagnosis was suspected, equipment used in the patient's surgery had already been used on several other patient, possibly exposing them to the disease. Normal sterilization procedures are not enough to rid medical equipment of the disease proteins.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said this month eight people who were treated at the Manchester hospital were being monitored for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Massachusetts health authorities said five patients at Cape Cod Hospital were being watched for the disease because surgeons at that hospital used the same potentially contaminated medical equipment as in the hospital in New Hampshire.
"We let them know we will continue to help and support them and to monitor their health going forward," said hospital president Dr. Joseph Pepe, "even though the risk is extremely low that any of these patients was infected."