Alzheimer’s disease has gained much attention in recent years as potentially debilitating to many elderly people and adversely affecting impacting the families and caregivers of those with the deadly disease. But according to a report on PR Newswire, there’s evidence that Alzheimer’s could pose a hazard to a sector of the population entrusted with caring for others: brain surgeons.
According to the report, Dr. Leslie Norins, CEO of Alzheimer’s Germ Quest, Inc,. is challenging current teaching that Alzheimer’s is not transmissible, based on his evaluation of five medical research reports. He is immediately calling for deeper research on possible infectivity.
Dr. Norin’s concern was aroused by a 2010 report from the society of neurosurgeons which said its members’ death rate from Alzheimer’s disease was six times that from other causes. No explanation was given.
According to the report, Dr. Norins noted that surgeons handle brain tissue with gloved hands during these operations these, but accidental punctures can occur. Hepatitis B and HIV have been transmitted to physicians through glove punctures.
Dr. Norins adds that amyloid-beta, a protein typically found in Alzheimer’s brains, was postulated as transmissible in three reports. Last month, doctors reported on eight adult patients who suffered a brain hemorrhage from infiltrations of amyloid-beta. Each of the eight had a brain operation during childhood.
According to the PR Newswire report, evidence appears to be mounting that transmission of the amyloid-beta protein is adversely affecting patients who received surgeries or injections.
In a 2016 study, similar amyloid-related hemorrhages were found in four patients who decades earlier had received donor grafts of dura mater, the membrane that covers the brain. The scientists theorized that in each instance infective amyloid “seeds” were transmitted during the surgery years earlier and grew into widespread plaques.
Along the same lines, a 2015 study reported that amyloid-beta plaques developed in patients who received injections of growth hormone extracted from prion-contaminated human pituitary glands. Again, transmission of an infective agent was postulated.
Finally, in 2010 it had been reported that household caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients developed Alzheimer’s at six times the rate of caregivers of non-Alzheimer’s patients. Possible transmission of Alzheimer’s to the caregiver was never considered.
The report says that Dr. Norins believes these five reports, considered together, show the possibility Alzheimer’s could be transmitted to neurosurgeons during operations. This new risk adds further impetus to observing precautions already recommended to protect surgeons from other infections.