The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today announced the on-going investigation of a hepatitis C outbreak associated with a health care worker who was employed at two northern Utah hospitals has identified the following:
Of the 15 genotype 2b cases from McKay-Dee Hospital, one is the original case, one is the health care worker, and six were found to be infected with hepatitis C prior to the investigation. Three of those six were known to be infected with genotype 2b prior to the investigation.Hepatitis C can be divided into several distinct genotypes based on genetic markers of the virus. The genotype associated with this outbreak was identified as 2b, and the UDOH focused its investigation on finding cases with a matching genotype.
In addition to the 16 total genotype 2b cases, the investigation also identified 37 cases of hepatitis C with other genotypes. These additional cases are not considered to be associated with this investigation. Seven cases are currently pending genotype results.
“This investigation should show Utah residents their public health system is serving them well,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, a CDC epidemiologist stationed at the UDOH. “By partnering with the two hospitals we were able to identify an infectious health care worker, establish that the worker may have exposed patients, test those patients, and provide them with testing results. Everyone working on this outbreak should be proud of these accomplishments.”
The UDOH launched the investigation in 2015 after tracing the likely exposure of a hepatitis C case to McKay-Dee Hospital. The investigation found a link to a health care worker who was infected with hepatitis C and was discovered to be taking drugs intended for patients and using them for other purposes. The scope of the investigation broadened after discovering the same health care worker was also previously employed at nearby Davis Hospital and Medical Center, and had admitted to engaging in similar behavior there.
“This investigation has been a massive undertaking for both the hospitals and for public health,” said Dunn. “We commend the hospitals for doing the right thing and ensuring their patients were alerted to the situation and provided free testing and access to treatment where necessary.”
Despite these efforts, there are many individuals who may have been exposed who have still not been tested. Both hospitals will continue to offer free testing to any patients who were notified of their potential exposure; and both continue to strongly recommend testing for those who haven’t yet been tested.
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver that can cause both short and long-term illness. Symptoms can range from nausea, fever, joint pain, jaundice, cancer or death if left untreated. The disease is spread when the blood of an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected. The majority of people infected with hepatitis C have no symptoms for up to 25 years.