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Twelve hepatitis cases linked to Beckley clinic

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Twelve cases of hepatitis linked to Raleigh Heart Clinic in Beckley have been investigated by health agencies, but the extent of how many individuals were exposed to blood-borne pathogens is unknown, according to a letter sent to physicians by Health Commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta on March 11.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, the Beckley-Raleigh County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated the cases.

Department of Health and Human Resources Director of Communications Allison Adler confirmed that eight patients receiving cardiac stress tests on three different days have tested positive for hepatitis C and four patients receiving cardiac stress tests on two different days are infected with hepatitis B.

According to the letter, the stress test required several injections through an intravenous catheter, but investigators “did not identify a clear mechanism that would explain how transmission occurred.”

Any procedure in which skin is broken, such injections and equipment used in administering medications that go into a vein or an IV line, can potentially place a person at risk for exposure to a blood borne virus.

Investigators have not found any evidence of transmission of HIV. Since HIV can be transmitted in the same manner as the hepatitis viruses, it is included in the list of recommended tests for which patients who received a stress test at Raleigh Heart Clinic between March 1, 2012, and March 27, 2015, should be screened.

About 2,300 patients received stress tests during this time period have been notified…

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