Hospital postpones surgeries after possible diagnosis of rare disease

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An Arkansas hospital shut down its operating rooms and sterilized surgical equipment after a possible diagnosis of a rare brain disease, state health officials said.

The disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, was detected in a patient at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. The hospital closed its operating rooms Tuesday, but it's unclear when operations will resume.

"There is no word on when the operating rooms could reopen; that would be a question for the hospital," said Margaret Mirivel, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department Health.

The hospital said while it's unlikely other patients are affected, it closed its operating rooms as a precaution.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is extremely rare and affects one in every 1 million people annually worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The degenerative brain disorder leads to dementia and eventually death. It occurs when a protein called a prion folds abnormally, making it infectious and affecting its ability to function.

Mayo Clinic says the disease develops in three ways: It can occur sporadically, the patient can inherit the abnormal prion or one can contract it during a medical procedure.

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