Hepatitis-C Outbreak "Not an Accident" - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Hepatitis-C Outbreak "Not an Accident"

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The outbreak of Hepatitis-C in Minot discovered last year was not an accident.

That's what an official at the North Dakota Department of Health says.

44 people who either lived at, or had been residents of Manor Care in Minot were infected with the Hepatitis-C virus.

Jim Olson continues his series of reports on the second-largest outbreak of the disease in the nation's history.

(Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe, Trinity Hospital Infectious Disease Director) "It should not happen. Even one. Even if you identify one, that is too much."

The head of Trinity Hospital's infectious disease department says an elderly person who has taken no risks associated with contracting Hepatitis-C should not have to deal with the dangerous disease. Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe says the fact that 44 people and their families have to confront the effects of the virus is a travesty. But it is a fact - and the coordinator of the viral program at the State Health Department agrees that the size of this outbreak is hard to believe.

(Sarah Weninger, ND Health Department Epidemiologist) "It is a large number for this type of an outbreak. It's huge."

Sarah Weninger helped investigate the outbreak along with the Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control. She says the bottom line is that this outbreak cannot be attributed to a simple accident.

(Sarah Weninger, ND Health Department Epidemiologist) "You know one or two is an accident but when you have 44 and we did, when we did testing and one facility has such a high prevalence, that's not...that's not an accident."

(Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe, Trinity Hospital Infectious Disease Director) "No matter how you do the statistics, it is impossible for it to be an accident."

The cases were found beginning in July of last year - and by the time the last Hepatitis-C victim was identified in October, 44 people had been found to have contracted the disease. The investigation couldn't pinpoint a method of transmission, and yet the cases stopped coming in as of October. Why? That's another question with no real answer.

(Sarah Weninger, ND Health Department Epidemiologist) "Something happened. And since these cases had been occurring over time it may have been something over time and then, once we got notified and investigated and now it's not happening anymore. We just don't really know what that was."

Just another mystery in the largest unsolved Hepatitis-C outbreak in the nation's history. Jim Olson, KX News.

Weninger says the Health Department's final report on the Minot outbreak is not likely to be published until this summer.

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