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NC Department of Health and Human Services
 
 

Public Health contacting patients after potential hepatitis C exposure in Scotland County cardiology clinic

Release Date: August 29, 2008
Contact: Carol Schriber, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Division of Public Health has identified hepatitis C infection in seven patients who had cardiac stress tests at Scotland Cardiology in Laurinburg, Scotland County, within the last 14 months.  Although it is not clear whether or exactly how patients became infected at this clinic, an ongoing investigation suggests that patient-to-patient transmission may have occurred. 

Health officials believe that only patients who took the stress test at this clinic on or since June 25 of last year may have been exposed to this infection. At this time, other patients and the general public are not believed to be at risk.

The Division of Public Health and the Scotland County Health Department are in the process of contacting all other patients who underwent the same procedure at this clinic between June 25, 2007 and August 26, 2008 to inform them of these findings and recommend testing with their medical provider for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and other infectious agents that may be transmitted through unsafe injection practices. 

“We have worked with the doctor’s office to ensure that there is no ongoing risk,” said Dr. Leah Devlin, State Health Director.  “We have identified the patients we need to reach and are in the process of contacting them.  We will be working with these patients and their doctors to find out if anyone else was inifected.  These viral infections can start without symptoms, so testing is recommended even if these people have not been sick.”

Public health officials believe there is only a small chance that those who had a cardiac stress test at Scotland Cardiology during the specified time actually got an infection.  However, testing is recommended as a precautionary measure.  Most of the patients will be able to get this testing done through their personal medical provider.  If a person does not have a doctor, he or she may contact their local health department for assistance.

Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus.  Most people do not have symptoms when they become infected.  Symptoms of acute infection can include fever, nausea, tiredness, abdominal pain, and skin or eyes becoming yellow.   While some people can fight off the infection, in others it can lead to serious long-term liver damage.  Hepatitis C can be treated, although the success of treatment depends on the particular strain of the virus.

People who were tested at Scotland Cardiology between June 25, 2007 and August 26, 2008 can contact the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services CARE-LINE at 1-800-662-7030
(TTY 1-877-452-2514) for more information.  The CARE-LINE is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  A copy of the letter being mailed to patients is being posted on the N.C. Public Health website at www.ncpublichealth.com.

 

Updated: October 14, 2008