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Mad Cow Disease: Another Reason to Stay Away From Unnecessary Surgeries

Five years ago, I warned you about the more uncommon ways Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, better known as mad cow disease, may spread through the use of tainted blood and improperly sterilized surgical instruments. Perhaps, the possibilities aren't as remote as you'd think, according to a new study.

The key contributors to spreading mad cow disease from infected patients to others depends on the number of times a single surgical instrument is used and the cleaning regimen, which we've seen can be problematic even in the best hospitals.

Applying a mathematical framework, researchers concluded the possibility of spreading mad cow from infected patients through surgical instruments was indeed real, and further research was needed to assess the potential risk. At a minimum, the tracking of surgical instruments needed improvement so tools used on infected patients wouldn't be reused.

Even that could be problematic, considering mad cow may have a longer incubation period, lasting more than 50 years. All the more reason to stay away from hospitals and needless medical procedures by making some sensible lifestyle changes.

Journal of The Royal Society Interface August 22, 2006 Free Full Text Study

Science Daily August 21, 2006

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