Tube could have carried Hetatatis C infection

16 patients were affected with Hepatitis C
Chennai: Government hospitals do not replace tubing and transducer protectors after every dialysis session, as recommended, leading to spread of Hepatitis C virus among other patients.
Recently, 16 patients had contracted the deadly Hepatitis C virus during dialysis at government Stanley hospital. They were initially referred to other hospitals, but have resumed treatment at Stanley following protests.
Nephrologists at the hospital remain unsure on how the virus could have spread to so many patients within such a short span of time.
“It is not possible for us to investigate and find out who was the carrier of the virus. It is possible that five new patients who shifted to Stanley from other hospitals could have been carriers. Presently, all 16 are suspected carriers,” says chief of nephrology at Stanley, Dr Edwin Fernando.
One of them was probably the index case who could have infected the others.
“All the patients undergo a test every month. The Hepatitis virus has an incubation period ranging between two weeks and six months. It is possible that one of the patients who had the incubating virus was the cause of spreading the infection. The primary cause for spread of virus could be reuse of washed tubes,” says Dr Edwin.
The Stanley hospital presently has 44 patients undergoing dialysis. Of the 14 dialysis machines present, two are dedicated to patients with Hepatitis. According to senior nephrologists, patients with kidney failure have to undergo dialysis every week to retain normal body function.
They point out that dialysis machine could not be a carrier for the virus but the tubes used to transfuse blood to and from the machine could have caused the spread of the virus.
“Normally, infection control measures should be strictly in place. Tubes used for a dialysis procedure should be disposed of after it is completed. However, in government hospitals, the tubes are not replaced, probably due to shortage of funds, and instead they are washed and reused,” says Dr Vijay Kumar, a senior nephrologist in the city.
He points out that usually the tubes are not sterilised and there could be blood stains on the outer wall of the tubes which could contaminate the next patient who performs dialysis.
“Since dialysis at government hospitals are performed at '800 for a dialysis, it is not feasible to replace tubes every time. Even if one or two patients contract the infection, they could spread it to others,” Dr Vijay Kumar says. “The government should strictly enforce disposal of tubes after every dialysis.”
Dr A.L. Meenakshi Sundaram. dean at the hospital, says, “The hospital is reputed to have dialysis cases. There are referrals of Hepatitis cases that come to the hospital; 123 such patients were treated last year who underwent transplants too.”
( Source : dc )
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