Health authorities in the state of New South Wales in Australia are urging up to 2000 patients of a doctor in Sydney to test for hepatitis C and other blood-borne viruses. The move follows reports that five such persons had already contracted the highly infectious disease.
An investigation has found Dr Daniel Hameiri's Double Bay clinic - where patients receive vitamin injections - was the source of the potentially fatal disease. Double Bay is a harbourside eastern suburb of Sydney.
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Dr Hameiri has been referred to the NSW Medical Board and Health Care Complaints Commission, but has been allowed to keep practising.
An inquiry found that the spread of the virus had probably occurred as a result of "inadequate infection control practices" at the clinic.
Health Minister Reba Meagher said Dr Hameiri had closed the clinic during the investigation but had "reassured" officials the procedures had been corrected.
"Although the risk is low we want to encourage anyone else who received injections at this clinic to contact their doctor," Meagher said.
"Practices at the clinic have changed and will be subject to ongoing infection control reviews by NSW Health."
Hepatitis C, for which there is no vaccine, can cause liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver failure.
Three women who received vitamin injections were detected in March to have contracted the highly infectious disease.
A subsequent investigation of 160 patients revealed two others infected.
The NSW Health has written to the Therapeutic Goods Administration to have the practice of injecting vitamins reviewed.
During the inquiry, health inspectors were concerned that the clinic was using vitamin bags intended for single usage on multiple patients.
Health officials are still unsure how the disease was transferred.
Director of Public Health for South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Health Service Professor Mark Ferson said it could have been spread by a drop of infected blood on a tourniquet.
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