Australia: Patients to Be Tested After Hospital HIV Scare

Officials at Bundaberg Hospital in southern Queensland are recommending blood tests for 274 people treated between Nov. 6 and 13 at the facility's dental clinic. Authorities discovered that one batch of dental instruments cleaned on Nov. 6 was not subjected to the final steam sterilization process, so patients treated during the specified time period should be tested for hepatitis A, B and C, and HIV. Health workers have contacted 31 of the 33 people on whom the instruments were used prior to the problem; these patients have agreed to provide their medical histories and undergo blood tests. None so far has reported having a blood-borne infection. "If there were blood-borne viruses at the onset of cleaning, the risk of transmission to a subsequent client of the clinic is considered very low for hepatitis B and extremely low for hepatitis C and HIV," said Dr. David Sowden, an infectious-disease physician with Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service.