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Information on potential CJD exposure

Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center is sharing information about the exposure of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, to 18 patients who had neurosurgery at the hospital. According to the CDC, the risk of transmission from surgery is remote and the last reported case of surgical transmission was in 1976.

It is believed that CJD affects about one person in every one million people per year worldwide. In the United States there are about 300 cases per year. It is important to note that there are multiple variations of CJD and this case is not related to mad cow disease.

Although the risk of getting the disease is very low, Novant Health believes it is important to share this information with patients, family members, and the community. Patients who underwent neurosurgery and were exposed already have been contacted directly by Novant Health.

On January 18, 2014, a medical team at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center performed a procedure on a patient with a neurological condition. Subsequently, the medical center was notified that lab results confirmed that the patient had CJD. Although the surgical instruments used during the patient’s surgery were sterilized using standard procedures for cleaning surgical instruments, they were not subjected to enhanced sterilization procedures necessary on instruments used in confirmed or suspected cases of CJD.

The patient had neurological symptoms that could have been attributed to CJD or another brain disease. Our standard procedure is to apply the enhanced sterilization process to surgical instruments that are used on any patient who is suspected or confirmed of having CJD in order to prevent possible transmission. There were reasons to suspect that this patient might have had CJD. As such, the extra precautions should have been taken, but were not.

Since then, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center has identified 18 patients who were exposed to the disease during brain surgery. We believed it was our duty to inform those patients who were exposed during surgery.

Following the CJD confirmation, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center instituted the enhanced sterilization process on all surgical instruments used in brain surgery. In addition, the hospital is following CDC recommendations and guidelines and working with state and local health officials to ensure the facility is taking necessary precautions to prevent this in the future.

Questions about CJD and this incident may be directed to our toll-free number 877-463-4052.

News media inquiries, please call 336-287-4203.


Frequently Asked Questions on Creutzfeldt - Jakob Disease (CJD)