June 14, 2012
Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is holding a meeting for members of the public to answer questions about the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital. The meeting will be held tomorrow night, Friday, June 15 at 6:00 pm in the Exeter High School auditorium at 1 Blue Hawk Drive, Exeter (GPS address 315 Epping Road).
The purpose of the meeting is to explain the process of the investigation by DPHS and answer questions about it for anyone interested. Speakers will include Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom, Deputy State Epidemiologist, and Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS.
“We realize there is a great deal of anxiety and that many people have questions,” said Dr. Montero, “and as we have done for other outbreaks we want people to be able to hear firsthand how the investigation has evolved and where we are in the process.”
So far 20 patients have been identified as being infected with the same strain of hepatitis C. The common link among all the patients is the Cardiac Catheterization Lab and its recovery room at Exeter Hospital. DHHS yesterday expanded the recommendation on patients of these units who should be tested for the virus back to October 1, 2010 through May 25, 2012. This is a change from testing recommendations set last week at April 1, 2011. Exeter Hospital is in the process of contacting these newly identified patients.
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 the DPHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496.