Cluster infection of hepatitis C reported in Taiwan

Taipei--The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday reported a cluster of five hepatitis C cases linked to shared needles at a clinic in Taoyuan.

All five patients had received intravenous injections at Wei Lien Clinic (????) before they were separately diagnosed with acute hepatitis C between January and May this year, the CDC said.

An investigation found that the clinic has used syringes and needles on different patients instead of discarding them after one use, the CDC said, adding that the clinic has been ordered to stop providing injections to patients.

CDC Deputy Director-general Chuang Jen-hsiang (???) said the investigation is still underway and that the CDC will not rule out the possibility of ordering the clinic to stop operations in accordance with the Communicable Disease Control Act to facilitate the investigation. However, the clinic remains open for business.

The incident is the first case of mass hepatitis C infection reported in Taiwan, according to Yang Ching-hui (???), a CDC division chief.

Given that hepatitis C has an incubation period of six months, people who received injections at the clinic between June 10, 2016 and May 12, 2017 are advised to have blood tests at the city's Yangmei District Public Health Center, Chuang said.

The number of affected patients could be about 1,200, he said.

According to the CDC, most people with acute hepatitis C infection do not have any symptoms, with only 20-30 percent displaying symptoms such as fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Approximately 75 percent-80 percent of people infected with the hepatitis C will develop chronic infection, the CDC said.

While 60 percent-70 percent of chronic patients will go on to develop chronic liver disease, 5 percent-20 percent will go on to develop cirrhosis over a period of 20-30 years, and 1-5 percent will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer, it said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel