Hepatitis Cases Under Investigation - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Hepatitis Cases Under Investigation

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A cluster of the Hepatitis C virus has been identified in Ward County centered around a Minot nursing home.

State and federal health officials are investigating at least 20 confirmed cases of Hepatitis C among the residents at ManorCare Health Services.

The origin of the cluster is not yet known, however, State Epidemiologist Tracy Miller says the cases have a common source.

Jennifer Thorgramson reports.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines 'hepatitis' as inflammation of the liver.

Hepatitis C is most commonly spread by direct blood exposure.

According to the CDC, 75-85 percent of people who become infected with Hepatitis C virus develop chronic infection that can result in long-term health problems including serious liver damage or even death.

The Hepatitis C cluster identified in Minot all involve people who are 60 or older and are former or current residents of ManorCare Health Services.

North Dakota Department of Health officials say three Hepatitis C virus cases initially were identified in August.

The federal CDC linked four additional cases to the first three and samples from 28 more people were sent to the CDC to be tested.

Miller received 14 of those test results Thursday afternoon: of the 14, 13 tested positive for Hepatitis C --- for a total of 20 confirmed cases of Hepatitis C among former and current residents at ManorCare.

ManorCare Corporate Headquaters issued a statement: Marketing Director Julie Beckert says, "ManorCare Health Services has been very cooperative and proactive in making sure that we are following our infection control process to proactively curb and prevent the spread of any infection, bacteria or virus."

Miller says the positive results belong to the same cluster and federal CDC and state health department partners are continuing the investigation to find the common source.

In Minot, Jennifer Thorgramson, KX News.

The State Health Department is contacting specific individuals who may have been exposed.

State Epidemiologist Tracy Miller says at this time, there is no danger for the general population, however, as a general practice, it is a good idea to be tested if you were born between the years of 1945-1965.

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