Health officials probe hepatitis C outbreak in MinotMINOT, N.D. (AP) — State and federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis C cases in Ward County centered around a Minot nursing home.
MINOT, N.D. (AP) — State and federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis C cases in Ward County centered around a Minot nursing home.
Three cases initially were identified in August, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. Since then, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked four additional cases to the first three. Samples from 28 more people have been sent to the CDC to be tested, and there is the possibility that more people might be referred for testing.
All of the cases involve people who are 60 or older and are former or current residents of ManorCare Health Services, though how and where people are being infected is not known.
"It's important to remember that hepatitis C is not spread through the air, but instead through blood, and it is not spread easily," said Kirby Kruger, director of the state Health Department's Division of Disease Control. "At this point, we do not believe the general population to be at risk for hepatitis C related to this outbreak."
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause serious liver damage or even death. Some people who get it recover, but most carry the virus in their blood for a lifetime and develop chronic infection.
"The initial part of this investigation focused on testing people to determine the extent of infection and to help provide some direction to the investigation," Kruger said. "The focus will now be on trying to uncover how the virus is being spread."