A patient in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital has been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), it has been revealed.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed that assessments are under way to see if any other patients have been put at risk of contracting the fatal degenerative brain disorder at the facility.
It is understood that medical chiefs are checking records to see how many people have been operated on in recent weeks with instruments which had been used on the affected patient.
An HSE spokeswoman said hospital managers are receiving advice from world experts in the UK, who have dealt with similar cases worldwide.
"This group is assessing the circumstances of this case to determine what, if any, risk may exist for other patients," she said.
"Further information will be available once this group has completed its assessment.
"When a case of CJD is diagnosed a review is undertaken to ensure that any precautions, if needed, are taken, in line with the national and international guidance."
CJD is a rare illness and one of a group of diseases called prion diseases, which affect humans and animals, and can be spread to doctors and other patients through medical instruments if they are not put through a rigorous sterilisation procedure or destroyed.
Figures show that, over the last six years, 30 cases of the disease have been reported, the highest number - seven - recorded in 2011.
A new form of CJD - called variant CJD - which is linked to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, was identified in 1996. Just four cases of vCJD in total have been identified in Ireland to date.
Really sorry 2 hear of the death of Albert Reynolds. Solidarity 2 Kathleen & all their family. Albert acted on North when it mattered. RIP.— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) August 21, 2014
I liked Albert Reynolds. The Joint Downing Street Declaration was one of the defining moments in British/Irish history.— Simon Fraser (@TheSimonFraser) August 21, 2014