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6 Patients Treated at Now-Closed Santa Barbara Clinic Test Positive for Hepatitis C

Six patients who were treated at a now-closed Santa Barbara medical clinic have tested positive for Hepatitis C, four of whom were given injection procedures at the clinic on the same day, which brings new urgency to the public health investigation.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department closed down the office of Dr. Allen Thomashefsky, 2320 Bath St., No. 307, on March 19 due to concerns that safe injection practices were not being followed. Two inspections at the clinic — one was announced and one wasn't — discovered "multiple infection control breaches," according to Public Health.

They started investigating after a former patient who had received multiple injections at the office had tested positive for Hepatitis C, and had no previous risk factors.

The health department has been working to reach out to thousands of Thomashefksy's patients so they can be tested for blood-borne illnesses such as Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV.

On Monday, the department announced that five of the six patients who tested positive for Hepatitis C are believed to have a new diagnosis, meaning they did not have the disease prior to being seen at Thomashefsky's clinic.

Four of the patients who tested positive for a new infection of Hepatitis C had injection procedures performed by Thomashefsky's office on the same day, and there were no other links between the patients.

"An important part of the ongoing investigation will be further molecular genetic testing performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This advanced testing can help determine if the Hepatitis C virus found in these infected patients share common genetic pieces and therefore are likely to come from the same source," Public Health said in a statement. 

One patient tested positive for Hepatitis B, but that was determined to be a prior, existing infection. One of the six Hepatitis C patients also had an existing infection, Public Health said. There have been 233 patients tested who are not infected with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV.

The department is urging former patients to continue to come forward and be tested for the diseases.  

People infected with Hepatitis C often have no symptoms and testing is the only way to know for sure, Public Health said.

Anyone seeking more information or anyone wanting to report an abnormal outcome from an office visit to Dr. Thomashefsky can call the Public Health Department's information line at 805.681.4373.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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