Tacoma, Wash.—This week, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of six hepatitis C cases related to the MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup outbreak. As of June 7, the total of confirmed cases is eight. Previously, the outbreak had two confirmed cases.
The current test results from the outbreak as of June 7:
(negative hepatitis C test)
(hepatitis C positive, unrelated to investigation)
(hepatitis C positive, still under investigation)
(hepatitis C positive, under investigation awaiting CDC lab testing)
(hepatitis C positive, genetic link confirmed by CDC lab testing)
More than 1,100 of the approximately 2,800 people notified they were potentially exposed to the virus have not yet been tested. The hospital has notified everyone with a potential exposure risk. Testing is free. The hospital will also connect people who need it to treatment.
“The tricky part about hepatitis C is you can feel fine for decades while the virus does damage to your liver threatening your health,” said Nigel Turner, communicable disease division director. “It’s always important to take health notifications seriously for your protection and the protection of those around you,” he said.
The Health Department expects to find more confirmed cases as more people get tested. Not all of the cases that have been found, or will be found, are linked to this outbreak. Many people previously infected with hepatitis C have never been tested.
Analysis of the test results
The CDC test results confirm a genetic link for the hepatitis C in all eight cases:
- Seven patients are new infections who got treatment in the hospital’s emergency department in December.
- One patient has a known hepatitis C infection and got treatment in the emergency department in August and November.
None of these patients have any connection to one another, except for potential exposure to the virus when they received treatment at the Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency Department.
The patients all received an injection. The only common provider who treated them and administered intravenous injections to each one is the nurse who no longer works at the hospital. How the virus spread in this outbreak is unclear. The Health Department continues to work with the hospital on the investigation.
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus that attacks the liver and, if left untreated, can cause life-long complications like cirrhosis (scarring) or liver cancer. Most people with the virus don’t know they have it because so few people show symptoms.
In April, Good Samaritan Hospital announced the potential hepatitis C exposure. The hospital sent notifications to patients who received treatment in the emergency department between Aug. 4, 2017 and March 23. Learn more about the hospital notification, hepatitis C, and see previous test results at www.tpchd.org/hepc.
About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 163 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.