Public health officials say six more Exeter Hospital patients have tested positive for Hepatitis C. That brings the total number of infections to 27.
Local, state and federal law enforcement are still investigating the cause of the outbreak. An Exeter Hospital employee is suspected of exposing patients to the liver-destroying virus by mishandling needles.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services says another Exeter Hospital patient has tested positive for the original strain of hepatitis C. This brings the total count to 21—20 patients and 1 hospital employee.
The current testing pool includes anyone associated with the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab or recovery room between October 1, 2010 and May 25, 2012.
New Hampshire Director of Public Health, José Montero, says that the DHHS continues to work in close collaboration with Exeter Hospital while the CDC independently checks testing results.
Hepatitis is a general term for inflammation of the liver which can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, toxins, drugs, or heavy alcohol use. Hepatitis also refers specifically to the viral infections that cause inflammation of the liver; hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. The most common hepatitis viruses are A, B, and C. Vaccines for hepatitis A and B have been part of routine childhood vaccinations since the mid 1990s.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services says that drug diversion is the most likely cause of the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital. Health officials also expect to discover more cases of the virus.