CDC hunts patients from clinic with hepatitis C

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CDC hunts patients from clinic with hepatitis C

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday that 78 people who visited the Dana Clinic in Yangcheon District, southwestern Seoul, were found to be infected with hepatitis C because it reused syringes.

Other patients were found to be infected with hepatitis B, malaria and syphilis, although it is questionable whether they got those diseases from syringes.

Among the 2,268 people who visited the clinic since it opened in 2008, 1,055 were tested, and the CDC is still trying to track down the rest.

According to the CDC, all 78 patients who are positive for antibodies of the hepatitis C virus received intravenous injections at the clinic. While 23 of them recovered from the disease, 55 are still infected.

Some 787 of the 2,268 visitors received additional screenings for other blood-borne diseases.

Among them, 23 were found to be positive for hepatitis B antibodies, 14 for malaria and four for syphilis. All patients with malaria had recovered from the disease, and three patients testing positive for syphilis recovered, presumably after treatment.

The CDC concluded it is highly unlikely that those diseases were infected through the reuse of syringes.

“The infection rates of syphilis and hepatitis B at the clinic are not that high compared to the average infection rate of the district,” Lee Jae-gap, an infectious disease expert at Hallym University Medical Center said. “Although the infection rate of malaria is a little higher than average, it still does not seem to be the result of syringe reuse.”

BY LEE ESTHER [koo.yurim@joongang.co.kr]

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