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From: TSS (
Subject: Second CJD man had surgery in Melbourne
Date: September 13, 2004 at 5:19 pm PST

Second CJD man had surgery in Melbourne

September 14, 2004 - 9:24AM


A second man with a rare and deadly brain disease was operated on at a second Melbourne hospital, but there was no risk of others becoming infected, Victoria's health minister's office said today.

A spokesman for minister Bronwyn Pike today confirmed that a man with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) was admitted to the Austin Hospital in 2001 with a neurological condition.

"It was suspected prior to surgery that this man had CJD so he was operated on using disposable instruments which were then thrown out, so there was no risk whatsoever to any other patients," the spokesman said.

"There was no contamination of instruments and patients who have undergone surgery at the hospital are not at risk."

The man later died from CJD which was confirmed following an autopsy, the spokesman said.

The revelation came as more than 1,000 former patients of the Royal Melbourne Hospital were yesterday warned there was a small risk they could have contracted CJD from surgical instruments.

The hospital has couriered letters to 1,056 brain or spinal patients after confirmation that a man with CJD twice underwent surgery there in 2003. He died earlier this year but it took until last week for tests to confirm he had the disease.

CJD is one of the only diseases to withstand normal sterilisation processes.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital has withdrawn its stock of 15,000 neurosurgical instruments pending their replacement and has begun sterilising its entire stock of 300,000 surgical instruments on the advice of the National CJD Incidents Committee.

The man who underwent surgery at the Austin Hospital later died from the condition, which was confirmed following an autopsy, Ms Pike's spokesman said.

The last known case of probable transmission of CJD through neurosurgical instruments in Australia was during the 1970s.

There have been five reported cases worldwide of CJD being transmitted via contaminated neurosurgical equipment.

There are about 20 cases of CJD reported within Australia each year.

This type of CJD, known as Sporadic CJD, is not communicable and occurs randomly.

It is a fatal disease with the average survival rate of four months after symptoms appear.

It is related to Variant CJD, or Mad Cow disease, but has very different characteristics.

There has never been a diagnosed case of Mad Cow disease in Australia.

Meanwhile, doctors at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital have discovered that a boy who underwent brain surgery at the facility had also been operated on at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

A spokeswoman from the Royal Children's Hospital said the one elective neurosurgery case planned for today had been cancelled as a precaution.

"The hospital stresses that this action is precautionary until doctors are assured they are fully informed," the spokeswoman said.

"Doctors will take advice from the national CJD taskforce and the Department of Human Services and it is expected elective surgery will resume tomorrow."


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