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New Hampshire fears eight exposed to rare brain disease in hospital

BOSTON (Reuters) - New Hampshire warned on Wednesday that eight patients who recently underwent neurosurgery at a Manchester hospital may have been exposed to a rare brain condition similar to "mad cow" disease in cattle.

The state health department said the exposure may have been the result of a surgery on a ninth patient, who is now believed to have had a sporadic form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a condition similar to "mad cow" disease but not linked to beef consumption.

All eight patients have been notified of their potential exposure, officials said, adding that there was no risk to the general public.

In the disease's sporadic form, it crops up spontaneously without a known cause. There is no known treatment or cure for the fatal condition, which has symptoms including failing memory to personality changes, blindness and sudden jerky movements, the health department said.

"After extensive expert discussion, we could not conclude that there was no risk, so we are taking the step of notifying the patients," said Dr. Jose Montero, the state's director of public health.

(Reporting by Scott Malone and Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Greg McCune and Carol Bishopric)

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