More Than 80 Patients of Fremont, Neb., Clinic Found to Have Hepatitis C Infection in Ongoing Investigation
At least 80 patients of a Fremont, Nebraska-based clinic have contracted hepatitis C, most likely from "poor infection control" practices at the clinic, state health officials said on Tuesday, the Omaha World-Herald reports. Since clinic officials discovered the outbreak last month, the state has tested 485 patients and found that 81 have hepatitis C infection, including one patient who was already infected with the virus and who is believed to be the origin of the outbreak. The clinic was officially closed this fall, according to the World-Herald (Olson, Omaha World-Herald, 11/19). Health officials speculated that the infections may have occurred when a worker at the clinic, which specializes in chemotherapy and hematology, reused a contaminated needle and syringe to treat several people. Another possibility is that a worker used a contaminated needle to draw medication, thereby polluting the vial (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/17). The state is conducting a public health review to find the exact cause of the outbreak and a licensure investigation to determine if clinic operator Dr. Tahir Javed, or any members of his nursing staff, should face disciplinary action. Health officials sent letters to 612 patients who had received treatment between March 2000 and December 2001 advising them to get tested for hepatitis C. Those who were not tested included people who have died, did not receive treatments that could have exposed them to hepatitis C or did not want to be tested, Dr. Richard Raymond, Nebraska's chief medical officer, said. Although the outbreak in Fremont is "unusually large," it is "not unique," according to state epidemiologist Dr. Tom Safranek. He added that investigations into hepatitis C outbreaks are also underway in New York and Okalahoma (Omaha World-Herald, 11/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.