Hundreds of N.B. Hospital patients were informed about two suspected Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease cases

Atlantic CTV

Published Monday, April 8, 2019 6:39 PM ADT

Last Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2019 7:57 PM ADT

Horizon Health contacted over 700 patients following suspected Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease identified in two patients who had a cataract surgery in Moncton Hospital.

Emely Poitras, spokesperson for Horizon Health, says they have decided that the two CJD cases are not involved in Moncton Hospital.

Poitras also states that patients who have undergone cataract surgery in the following weeks have no major risk of bringing the protein from the same medical instruments being used. "

“Horizon is confident that the risk of referring CJD from the same instruments is not used significantly,” said Poitras in a statement with CTV Atlantic. “Horizon uses modern cleaning and sterilization processes that make transmission impossible.”

CJD is a non-abnormal brain disorder leading to a fatal form of dementia. It is caused by protein in the brain called prion, which is harmless in its natural form, but which is toxic in brain cells in its abnormal form.

According to the Canadian Alzheimer's Society, in rare cases, CJD can be accidentally transmitted during a human tissue-related medical procedure, or to cattle exposure.

Initial properties include memory loss, sudden movements, vision problems or inability to speak.

The society says that CJD has a different impact on everyone, but in the end the person loses the ability to move, talk and needs full-time care. People with CJD rarely live longer than a year. There is no cure.

Horizon Health said it sent letters to 103 patients, informing them of the risk, following the first CJD case finding on 15 January.

He notified 601 further patients on 14 February, following the second case.

Horizon Health say that CJD transmission with surgical instruments is only seven times worldwide, more than 20 to 40 years ago. None of these cases were linked to cataract surgery.

There is no CJD Maritime case to see.

There have been fewer than 1,000 cases in Canada in the last 11 years, which Horizon Health recognizes are very rare to have two separate unrelated cases with patients with likely CJD in the same hospital, who had both cataract surgery.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick usually see one case of CJD per year.

Horizon Health notes that, as it is so rare that there are two separate cases, it informed the Canadian Public Health Agency.

“While risk is very low, Horizon Health Network continued appropriate procedures by being proactive and transparent and sharing information with patients as well as disclosing information to Canada's Public Health Agency and our regional public health office,” Bruce MacFarlane, communications director for the Department of Health, said.

CTV Atlantic reached the Canadian Public Health Agency for comment. He said he is working on a response to the request.

The matter emerges as Moncton Hospital continues to address another issue relating to reports of a midwifery nurse – since then – approaching a drug induced labor. Horizon Health is asking anyone who thinks they have been affected to contact the RCMP directly.

With files from Laura Brown of CTV Atlantic.

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