Seventeen more cases of hepatitis C were discovered after blood was retested from patients at a Fremont, Neb., cancer clinic, state epidemiologist Dr. Tom Safranek said. The total number of cases is now 99 in Fremont.
An initial round of testing last year on 486 former clinic patients revealed 82 hepatitis C cases. The second round of tests uncovered the 17 additional infections. Those people were notified of their infection by their personal physicians, Safranek said. Dr. Alexandre Macedo De Oliveira, epidemic intelligence service officer for CDC, has said the Fremont hepatitis C outbreak is the largest of its kind in the nation, and perhaps the world.
All of the infected people were treated at a clinic operated by Dr. Tahir Javed between March 2000 and December 2001. The clinic is now closed, and Javed has returned to his native Pakistan. The infections were caused by a nurse's failure to follow sanitary precautions, Safranek said.
Fremont attorney Jim Davis, who represents 20 infected people who have filed lawsuits against Javed, said he was not surprised by the news of the additional cases. He said he suspects there are more cases, pointing out that there were people who did not get tested after receiving letters advising them to do so.
The state began an investigation in September 2002 when health authorities were notified by a Fremont physician that there seemed to be an unusually high number of hepatitis C cases diagnosed in Fremont. The 17 additional cases have brought into question the standard testing method for the virus in patients with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients. Safranek said the false negatives will be considered by national health and laboratory experts and may lead to a new standard for testing patients with compromised immune systems.
Back to other CDC news for June 11, 2003