ATLANTA, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking dialysis providers to improve their infection control practices because of an increased number of patients acquiring the hepatitis C virus.
The agency reports it has been contacted about 36 cases of HCV at 19 clinics in eight states, with transmission of the virus between patients proven at nine of the clinics. The transmission is being blamed on lapses in preventive measures such as injection safety, environmental disinfection, and hand hygeine.
HCV is a liver infection generally spread by sharing needles or other methods of injecting drugs. Most people who get HCV are infected for a short period of time, though it can lead to longer-term health problems.
Although CDC officials acknowledge better screening and awareness of spreading the virus, confirmation of of the virus has led the agency to release a list of suggested actions for facilities.
Among the requests are for providers to re-evaluate infection control practices and ensure adherence to standards, address any gaps in practices immediately, make sure staff are aware of and trained for infection control, and closely follow recommendations for patient screening and management of those who test positive.
"Dialysis facilities should actively assess and continuously improve their infection control, environmental cleaning and disinfection, and HCV screening practices, whether or not they are aware of infections in their clinic," the agency said in a press release. "Any case of new HCV infection in a patient undergoing hemodialysis is likely to be a healthcare-associated infection and should be reported to public health authorities in a timely manner."