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Canadian Hospital Remains Closed

May 10, 2001

WINDSOR, Ontario (AP) _ The chief trauma hospital in this Canadian border city will keep its operating rooms closed at least through Friday after possible infection with a rare brain-wasting illness.

Surgeons at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital operated March 11 on a woman who later tested positive for possible infection with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The disease, known as CJD, is extremely rare and usually fatal, hospital neurosurgeon Dr. Srinivas Chakravarthi said Thursday. CJD occurs worldwide, typically in those over the age of 50, with about one case per million people each year.

A variant of the disease has been linked directly to eating meat from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, known as mad cow disease. Nearly 100 people in Europe have died of new variant CJD since 1995.

Chakravarthi said he learned of the test result, which is about 85 percent accurate, on Monday. As a precaution, the hospital halted all surgery and began disinfecting its operating rooms and surgical equipment Tuesday.

Patients who have had neurosurgery at the hospital since March were being contacted, said chief executive Frank Bagatto.

However, ``the odds of anyone getting this particular disease is almost close to zero,″ Chakravarthi said at a news conference.

One good sign is that the woman who tested positive seems to be doing well, which could indicate the test is a false positive, the surgeon said.


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