Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is today announcing results related to testing of patients who had been treated at Exeter Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab (CCL) beginning August 1, 2011. The NH Public Health Labs (PHL) have identified an additional six patients who match the strain of hepatitis C recently diagnosed in 4 people already associated with the CCL, bringing the total number of related cases to 10. The initial first four cases identified last week include four patients, one of whom is an Exeter Hospital employee. All these 10 individuals have been notified.
The investigation thus far has indicated the common link among the cases to be Exeter Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab and its recovery room. DPHS and Exeter have been working in close collaboration since Exeter notified DPHS of the cluster. This is the first round of test results, additional results are still pending.
“We realize this may be very concerning, but we are working quickly and thoroughly to determine how these individuals were infected,” said Public Health Director Dr. José Montero. “This is a complex investigation and it may take quite some time to pinpoint exactly how this happened. We will be sure to keep people informed as new information becomes available.”
Because of these new results, DPHS is expanding its initial recommendations to test patients for hepatitis C, who received care at the Cath Lab and its recovery room on or after April 1, 2011, instead of August 1, 2011 through May, 25, 2012. Exeter Hospital is in the process of calling all additional patients who now fit these criteria to schedule appointments for testing and expect to complete that process by the end of the day. DPHS is also testing staff who worked in the Cath Lab going back to September 1, 2011, which is an expansion from the original date of January 1, 2012.
DPHS has determined the Cath Lab is safe and has returned to normal operations.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection transmitted by blood. It causes inflammation of the liver that can lead to chronic health issues. It is passed from person to person through contact with an infected person’s blood.
Any patients who fit the above criteria can contact Exeter Hospital’s Information and Referral Center to make an appointment for testing at (603) 580-6124. For questions and information about hepatitis C visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hepatitisc/index.htm or www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/index.htm or call DPHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at (603) 271-4496.