New case of Hepatitis C reported at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health Services announced on Thursday a new case of hepatitis C infection in Exeter Hospital.

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis c virus that primarily affects the liver and is mostly asymptomatic. Chronic infections can lead to scarring and cirrhosis of the liver. The hepatitis C virus is spread by blood-to-blood contact, which can include needles from either drug use or poorly sterilized medical equipment.

There was a recent string of hepatitis C outbreaks at Exeter Hospital, and this recent case adds to the 32 confirmed cases. The most recent case is believed to be due to sexual contact with one of the previously confirmed cases.

"As we said from the very beginning of this investigation more than a year ago, this is a very complex situation and this latest case is further evidence of that," José Montero, DHHS public health director, said. "Hepatitis C is a disease that is transmitted through exposure to blood containing the hepatitis C virus. While sexual transmission of hepatitis C is possible, it is very uncommon. In this particular case, there were medical circumstances that increased the risk of sexual transmission from person to person."

DPHS began the investigation of the hepatitis C outbreak in Exeter Hospital in May 2012. The cases were believed to be caused by a former Exeter Hospital healthcare worker who was charged in connection with the transmission of the virus through drug diversion.