Patients Exposed To Fatal Disease At North Carolina Hospital

A hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is apologizing for potentially exposing 18 patients to a rare and fatal disease.

Officials with Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center said Monday at a press conference that brain surgery patients have been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease which kills 90 percent of patients within a year of showing symptoms.

“While the CDC categorizes such risks [of transmission] as ‘very low’, any risk of transmission is simply unacceptable,” Jeff Lindsay, president of the hospital, told reporters.  “On behalf of the entire team, I apologize to the patients and their families for this anxiety.”

The instruments used in the brain surgery were sterilized using normal sterilization techniques but not the specialized procedures used for Cruetzfeldt-Jakob.

Amanda Morin, who had back surgery at the hospital and is one of the 18 potentally infected, told Fox News that she was “very, very angry something so little could cost me my life.”

The state Department of Health and Human Services said they are monitoring the situation.

HHS Spends $90 Million On Bioterror Treatments

The Department of Health and Human Services will spend $90 million over the next five years for a drug that can help stop two bacteria which security officials believe could make a deadly bioterror weapon.

HHS officials have already released $19.8 million for the purchase of Caravance, a drug that is aimed as a countermeasure to melioidosis and glanders diseases.

According to a press release from HHS, both glanders and melioidosis are considered suitable for biological weapons.  Untreated infections from the diseases have a mortality rate of 90%.   The bacteria have also developed some resistance to current antibiotics meaning even if you are treated for an infection there is still a 40% mortality rate.

Glanders is a respiratory disease transmitted either airborne or when the victim comes in contact with contaminated animals.   Melioidosis, which is often confused for other conditions like pneumonia, is also transmitted through air or contact.