Brain Surgery Patient Dies, Other Patients Warned of Disease Risk

Officials at a suburban Denver hospital were alerting brain surgery patients after another patient died of a rare degenerative brain ailment called classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the hospital said Thursday.

Six people who had neurosurgery at Littleton Adventist Hospital after an operation on the Creutzfeldt-Jakob patient and were alerted because of the remote possibility that the disease could be transmitted by surgical instruments, even after they are sterilized, the hospital said.

It was not immediately clear whether the instruments used on the victim were also used on any of the other six patients.

Classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is not related to mad cow disease, unlike variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Classic CJD occurs sporadically, appearing in about one in 1 million people in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. It progresses quickly and is always fatal.