Hepatitis Outbreak Linked
To Heart Test

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hi Jeff -
Now they claim 16 patients received the agent from the contaminated vial.
I have to wonder if the vial was deliberately infected. Did the exposure of the HCV virus to radioactive isotope change the virus in any way? The time between exposure to death, i.e. Oct. 2004 to Dec. 2004 is VERY rapid, extraordinarily rapid...and is suggesting of some mutation.
Hepatitis Outbreak Linked To Heart Test
By Ryan Bagwell
Staff Writer
At least one patient at a north county doctor's office has developed Hepatitis C after undergoing a cardiac test linked to an outbreak of the disease in the greater Baltimore area, a doctor at the practice said yesterday.
Dr. Paul Young-Hyman of Arundel Heart Associates, which has offices in Glen Burnie and Brooklyn, confirmed at least one patient had received an injection of the agent, often used to diagnose blockages in the arteries and other heart-related problems.
Ohio-based Cardinal Health Inc. voluntarily suspended operations at its Timonium pharmacy last week after it discovered a vial of the agent may have been contaminated.
State health officials said they believe no more than 16 patients were given the agent from the vial in question. In a statement posted on the company's Web site Monday, Cardinal Health Nuclear Services President Gordon Troup said 12 cases have been identified.
"All 12 of these patients had received a dose of radioactive isotope that was drawn from a single vial on October 15 and administered to those patients on the same day," Mr. Troup said.
The agent in question is a radioactive solution prepared and then placed into a sterilized vial and delivered to practitioners, Cardinal Health spokesman Jim Mazzola said. Once injected, doctors use scanners to track the solution's path through the body.
Dr. Young-Hyman yesterday declined to identify or say how many patients at his practice were infected with the virus. He confirmed, however, that the practice receives shipments of the agent from the Timonium pharmacy regularly.
Since the recent outbreak, his practice has stopped using Cardinal Health's tracer agents and now uses a different one altogether, he said.
Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For most infected patients, it is chronic, and some develop long-term liver damage or even liver failure. Other patients never feel sick, according to the CDC.
Hepatitis C can be passed from one person to another through contact with bodily fluids or blood.
State and county officials declined to name the clinics which administered the tainted tests, but Dr. Katherine Farrell, the county's deputy health officer, said the outbreak was multi-jurisdictional.
Dr. Young-Hyman said yesterday his practice immediately contacted county health officials after at least one of his patients tested positive for the disease.
County officials in turn notified the state, which began to investigate the Cardinal Health pharmacy, he said.
"That one specific batch was tainted, and unfortunately it was sent to our facility," he said.
Across the state, 19 Hepatitis C cases have been reported this year. That's more than double the number reported last year, state Health Department spokesman Karen Black said Monday.
Ms. Black, however, declined to say how many infections were thought to be part of the cluster and cautioned that the pharmacy might not be the source of the infection.
"It's too early in the investigation to say that's a cause or that it's the implicating agent," she said. "We're looking at that among other things."
The infections are not widespread and the public should not fear contracting the disease, Ms. Black said.
"We think it's a unique incident in a particular period of time - at this point," she said.
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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