How many times a year do these Hep C outbreaks make the news? This time Tulsa, OK, has had a dentist put over 7000 patients at risk for blood borne illness, including Hep C and HIV. Although the test is free to those who may have been exposed, there’s a two week wait for the results.
The dentist, Dr. Scott Harrington, was using rusty, improperly sterilized tools. The outbreak was discovered when someone with no other risk factors tested positive for Hep C, leading authorities back to the dentist. He’s given up his license.
Hep C transmission is all too easy—it can survive for a long time outside the body, and only the slightest amount is needed for exposure (HIV dies much more quickly outside the body). It’s been hard to get transmission rates down for this reason, and every time a medical professional doesn’t follow proper sanitation procedures, it’s Hep C that spreads the most.
Without testing, most people won’t know they have Hep C for decades, until their liver is very ill.
Never be afraid to ask your doctor about their sanitation routines—they should feel comfortable answering. Watch for signs that they’re following them—do they dispose of needles in toxic waste depositories? Do they wash their hands? Put on and disposable of gloves? Open a sealed container of any injection medication?
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