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Thursday, October 21, 1999 Published at 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK


Health

Doctor suspected of infecting patient

The infection may have been passed on during surgery

A hospital in Lincolnshire is carrying out an urgent investigation after a patient was found to be suffering from the dangerous hepatitis C virus.

Hospital authorities suspect the woman may have been infected by a doctor at the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston who has also been confirmed as suffering from the disease.

The doctor is believed to have also worked at hospitals in Torbay, Exeter and Southampton before moving to Lincolnshire.

Tests are being carried out to try to determine whether the two cases are linked.

Hepatitis C is an extremely infectious disease that attacks the liver.

The hospital will set up a telephone helpline if a link between the two cases is positively confirmed. The results of the tests will be known next week.

The risk of a doctor passing on hepatitis C to patient during surgery is thought to be very slight.

Sexual contact

The hepatitis C virus is usually transmitted in infected blood but it is also thought to be passed in bodily fluids during sexual contact.

Once someone has been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, it usually takes one to three weeks before the virus is detected in their blood.

Many patients with hepatitis C infection have no symptoms.

However, up to a third develop symptoms of acute hepatitis C infection, including:

  • Feeling sick
  • Weakness
  • Poor appetite
  • Jaundice - a yellowish tint to the skin and whites of the eyes that is caused by a build up of liver chemicals in the blood.

If hepatitis C is not cleared from the immune system with six months, it can cause chronic liver damage, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.



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