UPDATE: 45 Cases Reported in Minot Hepatitis C Outbreak - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

UPDATE: 45 Cases Reported in Minot Hepatitis C Outbreak

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Photo from ManorCare Website Photo from ManorCare Website

The North Dakota Department of Health has confirmed an additional case of hepatitis C related to the outbreak in Ward County. The case count is now at 45. “It is important to note that this case was most likely not newly infected with hepatitis C, but likely exposed earlier either in 2011 or 2012,” said Tracy Miller, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health.

The Department of Health will be attempting to contact individuals known to share risk factors associated with being a case in the outbreak, but were not tested or declined testing when contacted initially. People need to know whether or not they are infected, so being tested is important. Details about how to get tested will be included in the letter being sent out.

The department continues to investigate the outbreak by conducting further analysis and reviewing data already collected previously during the investigation. The top priority for the department is to ensure that transmission of this infection has stopped. To achieve this, the department is conducting ongoing testing and has conducted on-site assessments of infection control practices. No newly infected cases of hepatitis C have been found in people with exposures associated with the outbreak since October 2013.

A Hepatitis C victim in Minot, North Dakota, has filed a class action lawsuit over the illness.

The North Dakota Department of Health says this is the second largest Hepatitis C outbreak in U.S. history.  The record-setting number of confirmed cases has commanded the attention of the North Dakota Department of Health and federal authorities as they investigate the outbreak.

The law firms of Zimmerman Reed and Solberg Stewart Miller filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court on behalf of individuals infected with Hepatitis C at the ManorCare facility in Minot.

The North Dakota Department of Health reports that at least 44 people have been infected at the facility.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver that can cause chronic health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death. The health effects are likely to be more severe and progress faster in elderly patients.  The disease is spread by direct exposure to blood from someone infected with the virus, usually through needles or syringes. 

The initial Department of Health investigation in August 2013 indicated that these infections were all genetically linked and only affected patients and residents of ManorCare, suggesting the outbreak is associated with a common source.

Gordon Rudd, an attorney for the victims, said "This is a nearly unprecedented situation. A mostly elderly population is now living with the reality that they are highly susceptible to developing the serious symptoms associated with Hepatitis C."

The complaint alleges that ManorCare breached its duty to properly care for patients and residents, and failed to comply with state and federal regulations governing nursing homes. Adding that such an outbreak is not ordinarily, or ever, associated with routine health care procedures.
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