Sunday, December 17 , 2017, 8:16 pm | Smoke 48º

 
 
 
 

Local News

County Public Health Investigating Possible Spread of Blood-Borne Viruses By Clinic

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced Tuesday that it's investigating a medical office in the county where patients may have been exposed to blood-borne viruses, including Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV.

"An active and thorough investigation is being conducted to determine if anyone has acquired a blood-borne virus due to unsafe infection control practices during injection procedures at this medical office," the county said in a statement Tuesday morning.

The name and location of the office have not been released, but the clinic has been closed.  

The department is not releasing the name of the private medical clinic, which is the office of an individual doctor, because it has not been confirmed that people were exposed to the viruses, according to spokeswoman Susan Klein-Rothschild.

She said she is encouraging the physician to come forward and make a statement publicly, and notifying letters have been sent out to more than 300 people who were patients of the clinic between June 2014 and March 2015.

"We are contacting people in waves," she said, adding that the department is taking extra precautions to contact a number of people who may be at risk.

The department became aware of the possible exposures while investigating a case of Hepatitis C that may have been acquired from an injection at the local medical practice, Public Health officials said. 

"During this investigation, the medical office was observed not following standard/universal precautions to protect themselves and their patients," the department said in a statement, adding that the health-care professional at the clinic is cooperating in providing patient records and other relevant information.

Patients are being contacted individually and will be tested for Hepatitis B, C or HIV, and anyone found to be infected will be linked to timely medical care, the department said.

"A priority in this investigation is testing each of the patients who are possibly at risk for contracting a blood-borne virus," Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean said in the statement. "Each patient is receiving written guidance on where and how to obtain laboratory testing in a timely manner." 

Health officials stated that the conditions are not transmitted through casual contact and members of the public are not at risk if they did not have injection procedures at the medical office.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health are consulting with the county on the investigation and an information phone line is being established for patients notified that they could be at risk, which should be able to answer frequently asked questions and other information.

"We are actively investigating the situation to determine if diseases were transmitted and why," the statement said.

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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >