Beaumont assessing patients for CJD
[Posted: Fri 19/07/2013 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin has confirmed that a patient has recently been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) and the hospital is now working to assess ‘if any risk may exist for other patients'.
CJD is known as a prion disease, which means it can affect both humans and animals. It is a very rare form of dementia and tends to affect people between the ages of 50 and 80. However in the 1990s, a new variant (vCJD) of the disease was identified, which affects people at a much younger age. Research indicates that vCJD is caused by cross infection from cattle with BSE (mad cow disease), in other words, it is contracted through eating infected meat.
According to the HSE, ‘prion diseases exist in different forms, all of which are progressive, currently untreatable and ultimately fatal'. The disease is notifiable and the annual rate here is one per million of the population. In 2011, seven cases were notified, while in 2010, three cases were.
As the disease can be passed on via contaminated surgical instruments, the HSE emphasised that when a case of CJD is diagnosed, ‘a review is undertaken to ensure that any precautions, if needed, are taken, in line with the National and International Guidance'.
Normal sterilisation procedures are not sufficient to destroy CJD on surgical instruments. They must either be destroyed or undergo a specialist sterilisation technique. Concern has now been raised that some of the instruments used on the patient diagnosed with CJD may have been used on other patients before the diagnosis was made.
It is not known how many potential patients are affected, although the number is thought to be low - between 10 and 20.
The hospital is receiving advice from the Irish Panel on TSE (CJD) and from world experts in the UK who have dealt with similar issues worldwide.
"This group is assessing the circumstances of this case to determine what, if any, risk may exist for other patients. Further information will be available once this group has completed its assessment.
"The primary concern of Beaumont Hospital is for its patients and their care. Until the necessary risk assessment is completed and the necessary contact made with patients, it is not in a position to discuss the issues under review," the hospital stated.
It added that while the number of potential patients affected is low and is confined to one area of surgery, it has now opened a helpline to respond to any concerns. The number is 1800 302 602
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*** The potential impact of prion diseases on human health was greatly magnified by the recognition that interspecies transfer of BSE to humans by beef ingestion resulted in vCJD. While changes in animal feed constituents and slaughter practices appear to have curtailed vCJD, there is concern that CWD of free-ranging deer and elk in the U.S. might also cross the species barrier. Thus, consuming venison could be a source of human prion disease. Whether BSE and CWD represent interspecies scrapie transfer or are newly arisen prion diseases is unknown. Therefore, the possibility of transmission of prion disease through other food animals cannot be ruled out. There is evidence that vCJD can be transmitted through blood transfusion. There is likely a pool of unknown size of asymptomatic individuals infected with vCJD, and there may be asymptomatic individuals infected with the CWD equivalent. These circumstances represent a potential threat to blood, blood products, and plasma supplies.