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North Chinese Clinic May Have Infected Nearly 100 People with Hepatitis C

Update Date: Feb 05, 2013 11:52 AM EST

Local authorities in Northern China announced yesterday that 95 citizens had been hospitalized because of suspected hepatitis C that they reportedly obtained from a private clinic. The clinic is in Donggang city in the Liaoning province.

Authorities were tipped off at the end of the month. Apparently, patients who received varicose vein treatments at the clinic were considered at risk for the injection of hepatitis C. The clinic traced 120 patients. The remaining 95 are being held for further treatment.

The Xinhua agency, a Chinese media outlet, says that the possibility of medical mismanagement has not been ruled out as an impossibility.

The outlet says that at least one surgeon has been detained.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood to blood contact. However, it can also be passed along through sexual contact or from mother to child during the course of childbirth. The disease can cause cirrhosis of the liver, which is when the organ becomes scarred and loses its ability to function, and liver cancer. The virus's symptoms can range from a mild illness that transpires over the course of a couple of weeks to a lifelong debilitating malady. If untreated, the viral infection can become fatal, though the condition can be cured.

According to the BBC, the case prompts a reminder of the HIV controversy that came to light in 2001. In the early part of the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of people in the Hunan province were reportedly infected with the disease after selling their blood. However, the Telegraph notes that official numbers for the controversy are impossible to obtain, because the Chinese government has never officially apologized or acknowledged the case.

According to the World Health Organization, 150 million people are infected with hepatitis C every year. The illness and its related liver problems are responsible for 350,000 deaths annually.

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