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Hepatitis C Screening Offered To Patients

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7:01am 13th September 2013

Cornish patients treated by a health worker diagnosed with Hepatitis C are urged not to worry.

Treliske is offering screening to women seen in gynaecology and obstetrics in a three month period in 1983.

The worker is now retired but had worked at more than eleven other hospitals across the UK in the 1970's and 1980's.

Duchy director of Public Health Felicity Owen told Pirate FM: "It's a very, very remote chance of anyone having caught hep c from this health worker but we want to be absolutely sure.

"We'd want to know first of all whether or not the person had it and to make sure that they receive the appropriate treatment which can eradicate hepatitis C.

"What we need to do is make sure that there was no transmission and it would be very unlikely to have occurred during an operation but we just need to be absolutely sure that that didn't happen to people in our care."

Public Health England will write to patients personally and giving details of a confidential helpline that will be made available to discuss whether they would like to have a blood test arranged at their GP practice.

Dr Duncan Browne from Treliske said: "There are only a small number of patients we expect to be involved in the lookback exercise in Cornwall. The risk of infection is very low and patients are being offered testing as a precaution."

The helpline number if you are worried is 0800 121 4400

Further advice and support is available through the Hepatitis C Trust's Helpline (0845 223 4424 or 020 7089 6221).

Hep C Facts

Hepatitis C is a virus which can lead to inflammation of the liver. The infection can cause chronic liver disease, and, very rarely, if untreated, cancer of the liver. Around 10,000 new hepatitis C diagnoses are made in England each year and around 160,000 adults in England are estimated to be living with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Most people are unaware of their infection because the liver can still operate even when damaged and the virus does not cause any symptoms. It is often only when the liver becomes seriously damaged that symptoms occur and people report to their doctor. Antiviral therapies exist that will clear the virus in many cases.

The Hepatitis C virus is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, and very rarely through sexual intercourse. The virus cannot be transmitted through social contact, kissing or sharing food and drink. In the UK, sharing of equipment by intravenous drug users is the commonest mechanism of infection with Hepatitis C. Testing for Hepatitis C was first available in 1991.

Like most people who are infected with hepatitis C, the healthcare worker had no symptoms and was unaware of the infection until after they retired. As soon as the risk of infection was recognised, and a transmission was confirmed, a process of tracing their occupational history began.

7:01am 13th September 2013

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