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U.S. News

West Virginia Urges Testing After Hepatitis B Outbreak

June 7, 2010

The West Virginia Bureau of Public Health (WVBPH) is contacting almost 2,000 people who may be at risk of hepatitis B after participating in a free dental clinic.


The alert centers on patients and volunteers who took part in the Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic in Berkeley County in June 2009. In November, three clinic patients and two volunteers developed acute hepatitis B. WVBPH is not sure all the cases are linked to the clinic, but tests show four likely were infected by the same source.

Letters recommending testing are being mailed to 1,137 clinic patients and 826 clinic volunteers. Although most of those affected are West Virginians, others receiving the letters are residents of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

While the risk of widespread illness is low, health officials worry that many of those potentially infected lack access to regular medical care, may not know they carry the virus, and could pass it on to others. "The problem comes if there has been unrecognized transmission and someone is chronically infected," said Danae Bixler of WVBPH.

Berkeley County Health Officer Diana Gaviria said the state is expected to pay for most of the tests, including those for persons who have health insurance.

Back to other news for June 2010

Adapted from:
Associated Press
06.04.2010; Tim Huber

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Talk to a Physician About HIV/Hepatitis Coinfection in Our "Ask the Experts" Forums
More News and Research on Hepatitis B Prevention and Treatment

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