The HSE has confirmed that between 10 and 20 patients may now have 'a slightly higher risk of contracting CJD than people in the general population' as a result of the CJD infection issue at Beaumont Hospital.
Beaumont Hospital recently confirmed that a patient has recently been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), thereby potentially creating a risk of infection of other patients through contaminated surgical instruments.
The patient had undergone surgery in the neurosurgery department at Beaumont.
A review is being undertaken to determine potential risks for other patients.
The HSE, in an update on the matter, said due to the small number of patients involved, an exact figure of the number of patients would not be made public in order to protect patient confidentiality.
It said all patients involved, or their family members, would be contacted today to explain that that they have a slightly increased risk of getting CJD and to inform them of the precautions that they need to take to prevent any further transmission of the disease in the unlikely event that they have been infected.
"All patients will be contacted by their clinicians and Beaumont Hospital will be providing support and ongoing monitoring for these individuals into the future."
Outlining the background to the case, the HSE said a patient who had undergone surgery in Beaumont within the past four weeks was subsequently diagnosed with CJD.
This diagnosis was not expected by the treating doctors and was discovered post-surgery as part of routine laboratory examination of tissue.
As soon as the possible CJD diagnosis was made, the equipment used on the patient in question was quarantined and a review commenced to determine what, if any, risk may exist for other patients, the HSE said.
"As part of this process, advice was provided by the Irish Panel on TSE (CJD) and from world experts in the UK, who have dealt with similar cases in the UK and worldwide. This review has identified between 10 and 20 patients who may have a slightly higher risk of contracting CJD than people in the general population."
The HSE says the patients concerned and/or their families are being contacted by Beaumont to explain that they have a slightly increased risk of getting CJD and to inform them of precautions that need to be taken to prevent any further transmission of the disease 'in the unlikely event that they have been infected'.
Beaumont Hospital will be providing support and on-going monitoring for these individuals into the future.
"The risk to these patients is considered by the relevant experts to be minimal as transmission of CJD via surgical instrument is very rare, with no recorded cases in the past 30 years", the HSE stressed.
It said there is no ongoing risk in Beaumont Hospital arising from the CJD issue.
The helpline number for those with concerns is 1800 302 602.