Exeter Hospital, health officials inspect hepatitis C outbreak

New Hampshire health officials are investigating a hepatitis C outbreak that could involve hundreds of individuals after Exeter Hospital recently diagnosed four patients with the same strain, the community-based hospital announced last week.

All of the infected patients received care at the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab and its recovery unit, which Exeter Hospital voluntarily suspended May 25.

The hospital said it's contacting the more than 600 at-risk patients who received care in the cardiac cath lab since August 2011 to recommend they get tested for infection. Exeter Hospital also has started testing physicians and other staff who may have had a connection to the cardiac cath lab, The Union Leader reported.

"Despite the low number of cases we have identified to date, we are taking this issue extremely seriously," Richard Hollister, chairman of the hospital's department of medicine, said at a news conference Thursday, noted The Union Leader. "We are doing everything we can to quickly identify and eliminate the common source of infection.

Health officials said this is first hepatitis C outbreak in a New Hampshire medical facility, noted the article.

For more information:
- read the Union Leader article
- here's the hospital announcement