Blood tests on patients at a dental clinic have come back negative following concerns they may have been exposed to bloodborne viruses a year ago.
In May 2018, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit alerted patients of Lakeland Clinic in Lindsay that they may be at risk for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after health officials discovered improper sterilization of clinical equipment.
The investigation was launched after a clinic patient had been recently diagnosed with a strain of hepatitis C not commonly seen in Canada. The health unit says it discovered a second patient who had previously been diagnosed with hep-C with the same uncommon genotype who had attended the dental clinic just a day prior to the newly-diagnosed case.
The health unit issued a warning to patients served between Nov. 10, 2017 to Feb. 21, 2018 to be tested for bloodborne viruses.
On Tuesday, the health unit said of 257 patient notification letters sent out, 223 (87 per cent) had their blood tested. Since there is a long incubation period for hepatitis C, the health unit sent out 167 additional letters urging patients to have followup blood testing done.
Of those 167 patients, 92 (55 per cent) had tests completed. There were no additional newly-positive cases of hepatitis C, hepatitis B or HIV identified as a result of this testing, the health unit concluded.
“We are extremely grateful to all of the patients who had blood tests completed as part of this investigation and very happy to see no additional infections,” stated Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, the health unit’s medical officer of health.
Noseworthy noted many people who are infected with hepatitis C do not have symptoms and may not realize they are ill. She continues to urge anyone who received a letter but did not get tested to consult with their health care provider and consider future testing.
Noseworthy also praised staff and owner at Lakeland Clinic for their co-operation to “quickly correct” any infection prevention and control lapses identified and to relay information to patients.
At the time of the launch of the investigation, owner Dr. Eric Orpana defended his practice.
“I would like to assure our patients that the Lakeland Clinic has always had a vigorous cleaning and sterilization protocol in place,” Orpana said in a statement last spring.
WATCH: How a pharmacy is trying to make hepatitis C testing more convenient