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N.C. Public Health Responds To Hepatitis Cases

Release Date: October 19, 2010
Contact: Julie Henry, (919) 707-5053

RALEIGH - The N.C. Division of Public Health and the Wayne County Health Department are investigating a cluster of hepatitis B cases at Glen Care of Mt.Olive, an assisted living facility in Wayne County. Five residents have tested positive for the hepatitis B virus since late August; four have died.

Officials at Glen Care of Mt. Olive have already begun providing hepatitis testing to all residents of the facility. Notification letters have been sent to residents and family members. Public health officials also have recommended that all residents of this facility be vaccinated to prevent future infection of hepatitis B.

“We are working with facility staff to ensure that any residents or staff who may have been exposed receive proper care and to prevent any further spread of the virus,” said Dr. Jeff Engel, State Health Director.

Last week, upon learning of a possible cluster of cases, the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation (DHSR) sent operators of 1,300 adult care homes guidelines from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control regarding appropriate infection control procedures. DHSR licenses and regulates long-term care facilities.

Hepatitis B is a blood-borne disease that is typically transmitted by exposure to blood or body fluids. Public health physicians and local health department personnel have been at the facility to determine the cause of the infections and to ensure the safety of other residents.

“Based on our experience in similar settings, we believe the illnesses may be associated with healthcare delivery but are also investigating other possibilities,” Engel said. “This should be a reminder for other long-term care facilities to review their infection control practices and make sure they're doing everything they can to protect residents from infection.”

For more information on hepatitis B symptoms and treatment, visit http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/gcdc/hbv.html.

 

 

 

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