A nurse infected with hep C who had worked at Utah hospital was discovered to have potentially exposed more than 7,000 patients to it. Only less than half of the 7,000 people have come in to take the free testing offered to find out it they have the disease.
Angela Dunn, a physician with Utah’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Standard Examiner that “We do consider this an outbreak”. “When we have 2 or more hepatitis C-related infections, we consider it an outbreak.”
Only 35 percent of the 7,200 patients contacted to receive free testing have come forward so far, FOX13 reported.
“We’re hoping for about half at the end of the day, but we only have a few weeks left of free testing,” Dunn said.
Several people have already tested positive for the disease; however, the final tally of those infected isn’t expected to be released until February or March.
A couple hospitals that previously employed 49-year-old nurse, Elet Neilson, are offering free testing through the end of January. Mckay-Dee Hospital and Davis Hospital. Ms. Neilson, who contracted a rare strain of the disease known as genome 2b had been identified as having it along with a different variation of the hep C virus the StandardExaminer stated. Exposure to the disease is thought to have occurred between June 17, 2013 and Nov. 25, 2014 according to FOX13.
Neilson was fired for reportedly using medication illegally and pleaded to a misdemeanor of possessing a controlled substance. She got a slap on the wrist with a $413 fine and no jail time.
Dunn said it was important for everyone contacted to be tested. Symptoms of hepatitis C are baffling as it can lay dormant for decades.
“People can have no symptoms for decades and then all of the sudden their liver will start failing and that’s a deadly part of the disease,” Dunn said. “So it’s important to be identified early in the disease court when people don’t have symptoms so they can get effective treatment.”