Hepatitis outbreak reported at Ohio VA hospital

At least nine patients of the same Veterans Administration hospital dentist in Dayton, Ohio, have recently tested positive for hepatitis.

The hospital contacted 527 of the 535 veterans seen by a dentist that failed to properly sterilize instruments or to change gloves between patients, the hospital’s director, Guy Richardson, told the Dayton Daily News.

Of 375 patients tested so far, seven have contracted hepatitis C and two have contracted hepatitis B, reports. None of the patients had previously tested positive for hepatitis.

Andrea Buck, the VA’s national director of medicine, told that more testing will be done to confirm the results, adding that it may never be known whether or not the veterans contracted the disease at the dentist and  that epidemiological tests could take months.

Administrative actions have begun against Dwight Pemberton, the dentist, and two of his staff. Pemberton, however, can no longer face disciplinary action since he retired on February 11 at age 81, reports. He could have potentially infected patients from 1992 to July 2010.

Richardson issued an apology to veterans and pledged that the VA will continue to provide screenings and further care to those who were affected.

Ohio Veterans Affairs Communications Officer Todd Sledge told that the clinic plans to take full accountability.