State: 27 in Minot area infected with hepatitis CThe North Dakota Health Department hopes to test hundreds more Minot-area residents for hepatitis C now that an outbreak has infected 27 people, some with ties to a nursing home in the area.
By: Associated Press,
The North Dakota Health Department hopes to test hundreds more Minot-area residents for hepatitis C now that an outbreak has infected 27 people, some with ties to a nursing home in the area.
More than 350 people associated with the ManorCare Health Services-Minot nursing home have already been tested, according to state health officials. A ManorCare representative confirmed that current or former patients are among the people infected.
The Health Department said it has identified a group of about 230 additional people who might have been exposed to the virus and has sent letters asking them to make an appointment for a free blood test in early November.
State epidemiologist Tracy Miller said Wednesday that investigators are trying to find the source of the infection to prevent the further spread of the illness.
The outbreak that started in August is from the same strain, which indicates the possibility of a common source, Miller said.
Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that results in an infection of the liver. It is primarily transmitted by blood-to-blood contact. The disease can cause serious liver damage or even death. Some people who get it recover, but most carry the virus in their blood for the course of their lifetime and can develop chronic infection.
Older nursing home residents don't fit the group typically at risk of infection, Miller said. She said infection through injection-drug use, tattooing and body piercing is more common.
One of the possibilities investigators are checking is a common source of medical treatment, Miller said.
Julie Beckert, assistant vice president at ManorCare's corporate headquarters in Toledo, Ohio, said that the company offers long-term care services for people who can no longer live at home but that most of its patients come directly from a hospital for rehabilitation before returning home.
Typical cases are for orthopedic injuries and total joint replacement, cardiac recovery, stroke and neurological recovery, chronic disease management and wound care.
Beckert said family members shouldn't worry about getting infected because hepatitis C can only be transferred through contact with blood.
"It's not a super-contagious issue. And not that we want to downplay it, but it's important they talk to us and talk to their physician," she said.
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