Reuters Health Information (2005-06-06): Reuse of contaminated supplies to blame for HCV outbreak at oncology clinic
Reuse of contaminated supplies to blame for HCV outbreak at oncology clinic
Last Updated: 2005-06-06 17:00:15 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A large outbreak of
hepatitis C virus (HCV) that occurred at a hematology/oncology clinic a
few years ago seems to have resulted from the reuse of contaminated
syringes and saline bags, according to a report in the Archives of
Internal Medicine for June 7.
The outbreak, which was first reported in September 2002, occurred
at an outpatient clinic in eastern Nebraska. In the present study, Dr.
Alexandre Macedo de Oliveira, from the Centers for Disease Control in
Atlanta, and colleagues describe their investigation of the outbreak.
The researchers contacted 613 clinic patients who visited the clinic
during the likely exposure period, March 2000 through December 2001. Of
these patients, 494 were tested for HCV infection.
Ninety-nine patients were identified with new HCV infections, all of
whom had started treatment at the clinic before July 2001, the
All 95 samples that were genotyped showed the same HCV strain:
genotype 3a. The researchers believe the virus came from a patient with
chronic hepatitis C who started treatment at the clinic in March 2000.
Receipt of saline flushes was identified as a significant predictor
of HCV infection, the report indicates. "Shared saline bags were
probably contaminated when syringes used to draw blood from venous
catheters were reused to withdraw saline solution," the authors note.
This procedure was corrected in July 2001, they add.
"This report is a reminder that all suspected cases of
healthcare-associated bloodborne infections deserve vigorous
investigation because they might signal a widespread problem," the
Ann Intern Med 2005;142:898-902.