Exeter Hospital Experiencing Large Hepatitis C Outbreak
State investigators in New Hampshire are investigating a possible outbreak of Hepatitis C at Exeter Hospital after numerous patients tested positive for the identical strain of the disease.
Hepatitis C is a possible fatal liver disease that can be spread through blood exposure. According to the Union Leader, all of the patients infected received care at the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab. As of June 12, 2012, New Hampshire health officials were still exploring all possibilities for the cause of the outbreak.
Among the scenarios being explored by the Division of Public Health Services is that an employee infected with Hepatitis C may have transmitted the virus to patients by abusing narcotics and then injecting patients with a used syringe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this type of scenario has happened in three medical facilities in the United States over the last decade.
As of Monday, June 11, 2012, 14 people were linked to the outbreak at Exeter Hospital. According to Bangor Daily News, Dr. Jose Montero, New Hampshire’s public health director, state officials are looking at three main areas: One is the hospital’s procedures for preventing infections, managing narcotics and disposing of medications; the second is how well employees comply with the hospital guidelines in those areas; and third, the potential that hospital narcotics were abused by an employee who then spread Hepatitis C to patients using a contaminated syringe.
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