TACOMA, Wash. — The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said Wednesday that, in addition to the two confirmed cases, they have found seven “probable” positive cases of hepatitis C from their investigation into the spread of the virus at Multicare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup.
In addition, the department said, there were 12 other positive tests that are “still under investigation.”
Of the 2,761 patients who may have been exposed to the virus, 1,065 have been tested so far — and the majority, 1,028, were negative for hepatitis C.
The investigation was launched when two patients who had been given care in the hospital’s Emergency Department last December later showed signs of hepatitis C symptoms and tested positive for the virus.
The hospital said on April 30 it was notifying about 2,761 patients treated in the Emergency Department between Aug. 4, 2017 and March 23, 2018 who received injections of narcotic, antihistamine or sedatives about the possibility of exposure. MultiCare is recommending free testing for Hepatitis C and other communicable diseases.
According to the department, here’s what the testing for hepatitis C shows so far:
— Two confirmed cases (previously reported): Positive for hepatitis C and confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
— 7 probable cases: Positive for hepatitis C and under investigation, awaiting CDC testing;
— 12 cases under investigation: Positive cases still under investigation by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department;
“Testing also uncovered 16 positive hepatitis C test results not related with the hospital outbreak,” the department said. “This is a good thing because these people who may not have otherwise gotten tested now know they have the virus and can get treatment.”
MultiCare says one of their own emergency room nurses was stealing medications and may have already exposed at least two patients to the disease. She was arrested, but has been released and not formally charged.