The rare condition is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and it’s described as "rapidly progressive and always fatal."
The illness is similar to mad cow disease in how it attacks and destroys the brain.
The victims all had surgery at Catholic Medical Center in Concord, NH where it’s believed the surgery equipment was infected after a patient with the illness was treated.
Over a dozen patients are being monitored and now hospitals in other states have been put on alert.
Making matters worse is the fact the tools were on loan.
The chief executive at Catholic Medical Center explained to the Boston Globe that there’s no good way to eliminate the miniscule proteins that caused the condition.
If the equipment is cleaned thoroughly enough to kill the bugs, it will destroy the surgery tools.
"It's such a rarity, it's just not practical," he said. "No hospital throws out their instruments after each and every surgery."
The first incident was discovered in May, but the symptoms were only recognized last month. That patient died.
The equipment has been taken out of service.