The Hepatitis C outbreak that recently hit North Dakota has spread, bringing the total number of people infected to 47, according to state health officials.
The Associated Press reported that the newest cases affected residents of an assisted living facility called Somerset Court in Minot, ND. All of the other cases took place at HCR ManorCare facility.
Hepatitis C can be fatal and is contracted through blood–to–blood contact. It is still unknown what caused this particular outbreak, but, while residents of the nursing home have filed a law suit against the home, HCR ManorCare has blamed Trinity Health, the podiatry company they work with.
At some point in their lives, 75% of Americans suffer from some type of foot problem of varying degrees. When a serious foot problem does arise, a podiatrist can help. While it is important to always ensure that proper sterilization methods are used at any medical office you visit, Trinity Health has assured the public that their podiatry services were not the cause of the problem in this Hepatitis C outbreak.
A Trinity spokesperson stated that, considering the degree to which the outbreak has escalated, it is not possible for the disease to have spread through treatment from a podiatrist. The spokesperson went on further to say that, even if they tried, a health care professional could not create an outbreak of this magnitude through careless needle use.
Officials continue to search for an answer to how so many people were infected over this length of time, as this recent outbreak accounts for a fourth of all hepatitis C cases in the U.S. since 2008.