Hospital seeks five who shared surgical tools with 'mad cow' patient
Five people shared surgical instruments with woman who has human form of disease
Health authorities have urged Union Hospital to track down five of its patients after a Macau woman who underwent a brain operation at the hospital was found to have contracted the human form of the fatal mad cow disease.
The patients shared the same set of surgical instruments that were used in the Macau woman's operation on September 19.
The agent that causes the disease, medically known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, may still be present even after sterilisation of the instruments used, the authorities said. But they added the risk of transmission was "extremely low" and efforts to contact the patients was merely a precautionary measure.
The 51-year-old Macau woman had developed symptoms including progressive dementia, spasms, muscle twitches, an unsteady gait and visual disturbance. She was admitted to a Macau hospital on October 30, the Macau Health Authority said.
She was subsequently diagnosed with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and is in severe condition.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is believed to be caused by an abnormal protein in the brain. It cannot be transmitted through casual contact between people. Consumption of infected animals is a common channel for the spread of the disease.
As of Wednesday, there had been six reported cases of the disease in the city this year, compared with five last year and six in 2010.
A woman, 46, died of a suspected infection of the disease in October, six months after she developed symptoms.
The clinical feature of the disease is characterised by dementia and difficulty in walking. Early symptoms include memory loss, unsteady gait and loss of co-ordination of limbs.
Union Hospital could not be reached for comment last night.