Health officials with Region of Waterloo Public Health have identified a hepatitis C outbreak that includes at least five patients who had colonoscopies at a Kitchner clinic on Christmas Eve of 2013.

Hepatitis C replication Image/ GrahamColm
Hepatitis C replication
Image/ GrahamColm

Details of the investigation shows two clients who had colonoscopies on the same day (Dec. 24, 2013) at the same clinic (Tri-City Colonoscopy Clinic in Kitchener) were recently found to have similar fingerprints of hepatitis C. Public Health then continued its investigation to determine whether other clients had been affected. Late last week, test results of the other clients seen on Dec. 24, 2013 at the clinic revealed an additional three clients with evidence of hepatitis C infection, for a total of five cases of hepatitis C among 13 patients who underwent procedures that day. This is strong evidence of patient to patient transmission of hepatitis C at the clinic on Dec. 24, 2013.

Health officials note there is no evidence at this point of a risk to clients seen on other days at Tri-City Colonoscopy Clinic. A review of all known hepatitis C cases in Waterloo Region since the clinic’s inception has not identified other cases of hepatitis C linked to this clinic. Region of Waterloo Public Health recently conducted an assessment of the infection prevention and control practices of the clinic. There is no evidence of an ongoing risk to clients and their practices currently meet recommended infection prevention and control standards.

Public Health is continuing to investigate in an effort to determine what could have caused transmission of hepatitis C on Dec. 24, 2013. Tri-City Colonoscopy has been collaborative with Public Health in this investigation. Public Health is also collaborating with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.

Hepatitis C can be either “acute” or “chronic.” Acute Hepatitis C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis C virus. For most people, acute infection leads to chronic infection. Chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, or even death.