Transmission of hepatitis C virus in an orthopedic hospital ward

R S Ross, S Viazov, Y E Khudyakov, G L Xia, Y Lin, H Holzmann, C Sebesta, M Roggendorf, O Janata
Journal of Medical Virology 2009, 81 (2): 249-57
Healthcare-associated infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV) hitherto have been observed mainly in hemodialysis settings as well as in hematology and oncology wards. In this communication, molecular and epidemiologic investigations to elucidate an HCV outbreak in an orthopedic ward are reported. One hundred and thirty-five patients hospitalized in the ward and 104 staff members were tested. In addition to extensive epidemiologic reviews and hygienic inspections, direct sequencing of HCV PCR fragments and phylogenetic analysis of more than 300 partial HCV sequences obtained by end-point limiting-dilution real-time PCR assay were carried out. Six patients were infected with very closely related HCV variants. Patient-to-patient spread of the virus was inferred to have started from one patient with previous HCV infection to the other five patients during their hospital stay. Inspections did not reveal substantial breaches in basic infection control practices and did not identify a specific activity that might have led to nosocomial transmission. As a result of the investigations, the hospital corrected the documentation of all medical and nursing activities undertaken in the ward, abandoned the use of all multidose saline and other medication vials, and included explicitly recommendations for the safe preparation and administration of injectable drugs into internal infection control guidelines. Thereafter, no further nosocomial transmissions of HCV have been recorded in the orthopedic ward. The events observed suggest that nosocomial transmission of HCV is not limited to hemodialysis, hematology or oncology settings, and they also reinforce the mandatory adherence to basic infection control practices.

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