According to a News Release issued by the North Dakota Department of Health, government health officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis C that has occurred in Ward County. All of the cases involve elderly individuals who are former or current residents of ManorCare Health Services. It is not yet fully known how and where people are being affected.
Three cases were initially identified in August, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has since linked four additional cases to the first three. More than 28 samples from potentially affected individuals have been sent to the CDC to be screened. It is likely that more people may be referred for testing.
Hepatitis C is not spread through the air but through the blood. Kirby Kruger, director of the state’s Health Department’s Division of Disease Control stated that she does not believe the general population is at risk for the hepatitis C outbreak.
Kruger said the initial stages of the investigation were focused on testing individuals put at risk to determine the extent of infection. “The focus will now be on trying to uncover how the virus is being spread.”
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can lead to death. Some individuals affected with the virus may recover, but many will carry the infection in their blood for the rest of their lives and develop chronic infection.
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