June 19, 2012
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is today announcing additional sampling sites for patients identified as being at risk for infection of hepatitis C as a result of the recent outbreak at Exeter Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab (CCL). These sites offer an additional option for patients to have their blood drawn. Exeter Hospital has been working to contact all identified patients and scheduling them for testing.
“We have set up these additional locations in response to the public meeting on Friday night,” said NH Public Health Director Dr. José Montero, “where a number of people were asking if there was another option available for blood draws.”
Starting tomorrow, June 20th, 2012, patients who received a letter from Exeter Hospital recommending them to be tested as part of the outbreak can go to the following two locations to have their blood drawn. Patients must bring the letter with them to the site. The blood work will be sent to NH’s Public Health Lab for testing. There will be no cost associated with this testing for patients who have received a letter from Exeter Hospital.
PRH Collection Station Monday-Thursday 8 am-4 pm Closed 1-1:30 pm
55 High Street Suite 104
Hampton, NH 03842
PRH Collection Station Monday -Thursday 8 am-4 pm Closed 1-1:30 pm
Pease International Tradeport
26 Manchester Square
Portsmouth, NH 03801
To date, 829 samples have been submitted to the PHL, and 787 have been finalized. 20 people, including 1 Exeter Hospital employee, have been identified as part of the hepatitis C outbreak involving the CCL and its recovery area. Anyone treated at the CCL or its recovery room on or after October 1, 2010 through May 25, 2012, is being asked to be tested for hepatitis C.
Once testing is complete, DPHS is contacting patients with their test results as soon as they become available, whether positive or negative, to improve the notification process and inform the patient on recommended next steps.
DPHS believes the most likely explanation of this outbreak is drug diversion but the investigation is continuing. Drug diversion is when a person injects themselves with medications intended for patients. This can result in transmission of infections such as Hepatitis C.
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.
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.