SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

ND DOH reports investigation of Hepatitis C outbreak inconclusive

The North Dakota Department of Health recently announced that the preliminary findings of its investigation of a Hepatitis C outbreak in Minot are currently inconclusive.

"The goal of this investigation was to identify modes of transmission or risk factors associated with Hepatitis C in this population and stop ongoing transmission," State Epidemiologist for the N.D. Department of Health Tracy Miller said. "At this time we still do not fully understand how transmission occurred."

All confirmed cases involve current or former residents of the ManorCare Health Services center in Minot. While an epidemiologic analysis has been conducted at the facility in search of breaches in infection control procedures, none have yet been observed.

"Through observations and interviews, we further investigated these areas looking for possible breaches in infection control procedures that would explain the transmission of Hepatitis C," Miller said. "However, we did not observe any obvious breaches that would explain transmission."

Hepatitis C is transmitted from blood-to-blood. The investigation is still underway and specialists believe the outbreak may be a result of improper podiatry, phlebotomy and nail care services at ManorCare.

"Even though we have not identified the exact method Hepatitis C was transmitted in this outbreak, the health care providers have worked proactively with us to review and reinforce policies and procedures to strengthen infection control protocols," Miller said.

The investigation will continue and the N.D. Department of Health announced that it will bring a specialist in to help with the investigation and help educate ManorCare staff on infection control practices.