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Maryland probe fails to discover source of hepatitis C infections

Maryland probe fails to discover source of hepatitis C infections

After a five-month probe, Maryland health officials still do not know how a vial of testing solution became contaminated with hepatitis C virus and infected 16 people, according to a report on the investigation released Monday. The 16 were injected with the solution on October 15, prior to routine heart-stress testing. One man, age 79, died of the disease, his family said. The vial was produced by a Timonium, Md., pharmacy run by Cardinal Health, the Dublin, Ohio-based company has said. In their report, state epidemiologists said the day before the tracer solution was prepared, pharmacy technicians processed a blood sample that contained hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. The report said the pharmacy had been unaware the blood was infected. Testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the hepatitis C virus in the blood sample was similar to that found in the tracer, according to the report. But officials cannot say conclusively that the blood sample was the source of the tracer contamination, because the materials used to process the tracer had been discarded by the time the cases began to surface. State health officials said they expect to find no further cases linked to the tracer. The pharmacy closed after the outbreak, and no decision has been made on whether to reopen it, a company official said. (AP)

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