The health unit has finally wrapped up an almost year-long look in potential Hepatitis exposure.

Staff with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit are saying, the investigation into the Lakeland Clinic in Lindsay. In May of last year, patients of the clinic were given notice that they might have been at risk for Hepatitis B and C, as well as Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV.

According to the health unit, the warning was sent out after it was determined “that there were times in which the proper sterilization of equipment may not have happened at the dental clinic.” “When sterilization is not done properly, there is a risk that clients can be exposed to other people’s germs on improperly cleaned instruments.”

The actual investigation into the clinic started after the health unit learned of a dental clinic patient, recently diagnosed with Hepatitis C, with an uncommon strain or genotype not common in Canada. During the investigation, it was discovered that a second person was diagnosed with the same uncommon strain was in the clinic on the same day as the other person.

“The discovery that proper sterilization of equipment may not have always happened at the clinic, prompted the Health Unit to send letters to patients of the clinic.” says the health unit, who go on to say “based on its investigation, the Health Unit wanted people who received treatment at the dental clinic between November 10, 2017 and February 21, 2018 to be tested for the three bloodborne viruses.”

According to the health unit they sent out 257 letters and of those 223 patients got their blood tested, which equals 87 per cent. As a precaution, because of the long incubation period of Hepatitis C, the health unit sent out another 197 letters for follow up testing. Of those, 92 were tested with no tests coming back positive for the diseases.

“We are extremely grateful to all of the patients who had blood tests completed as part of this investigation and very happy to see no additional infections,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit.

Many people who are infected with Hep C do not have symptoms and may not realize they are ill. Dr. Noseworthy continues to urge anyone who received a letter but did not get tested to consult with their health care provider and consider future testing. This testing and diagnosis will help ensure those who may be infected get the treatment they need and help ensure they do not unknowingly infect anyone else.