More than 60 dental patients test positive for viruses

April 19, 2013 at 7:47 AM
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TULSA, Okla., April 19 (UPI) -- Health officials said they told 57 people they tested positive for hepatitis C and three for hepatitis B after being exposed at a Tulsa, Okla., dentist office.

About 7,000 patients of oral surgeon W. Scott Harrington's office were told in March they may have been exposed to the diseases, along with HIV, after poor sterilization practices at the facility. They were then tested for the viruses, CNN reported Thursday.

At least one person also tested positive for HIV though the exact number is unknown because the Oklahoma State Department of Health is prohibited from releasing the number if it's less than three, CNN said.

The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry inspected Harrington's practice March 18 and found many problems, including regular use of rusty instruments on patients with known infections, ABC News reported.

"I will tell you that when ... we left, we were just physically kind of sick," said Susan Rogers, executive director of the board. "That's how bad it was, and I've seen a lot of bad stuff over the years."

Health officials said it's not clear how many of the patients actually got the diseases at Harrington's office, if any.

"This is a complex investigation," state epidemiologist Kristy Bradley said in the statement. "The next phase will include more in-depth interviews of persons who test positive to determine the likelihood that their exposure is associated with their dental surgical procedure at the Harrington practice. We will certainly continue to keep the public informed as we learn more."

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