More Hepatitis Cases Traced to Vegas Clinic

Seventy-seven more people that were treated at a Las Vegas outpatient clinic have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, health officials said.

BY Mike Grippi

May 09 2008 11:00 PM ET

Seventy-seven
more people who were treated at a Las Vegas outpatient
clinic have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, health
officials said.

Authorities can't
say for sure how the 77 people were infected, said
Brian Labus, senior epidemiologist with the Southern Nevada
Health District. But they know each was treated from
March 2004 to January 11 this year at the Endoscopy
Center of Southern Nevada.

''We know they
didn't have a positive test before they went to the
clinic, and now they're positive,'' Labus said.

The reports bring
the number of cases linked to clinics run by the same
group of doctors to 85.

In the eight
cases identified earlier, seven were linked to the Endoscopy
Center of Southern Nevada. The other case was traced to a
sister clinic, Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center.

While 300 other
patients also tested positive and were interviewed,
officials determined they could have contracted the virus
through other means, including intravenous drug use,
blood transfusions, organ transplants, and kidney
dialysis.

The clinics were
headed by doctors Dipak Desai and Eladio Carrera, whose
Nevada medical licenses have been suspended pending hearings
by the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Authorities have
said at least 50,000 patients may have been exposed to
unsafe practices by clinic staff who reused syringes and
single-use vials of medication during anesthesia.

Hepatitis C
results in the swelling of the liver and can cause stomach
pain, fatigue, and jaundice. It may eventually result in
liver failure. Even when no symptoms occur, the virus
can slowly cause damage to the liver. (AP)

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