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 17 February 2018

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News

Outbreak of hepatitis B linked to 'autohemotherapy' at unregulated clinic

A paper in the July 29 edition of The Lancet has confirmed that an outbreak of hepatitis B in 1998 was linked to autohemotherapy given at an alternative medicine clinic in London, UK.

News image

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The outbreak is described in a BBC News Report.

Dr George Webster of the Royal Free & University College Medical School, London, received serum samples from 352 patients and 4 staff members who had attended the clinic between January 1997 and February 1998.

Fifty-seven patients and staff were found to have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, representing 16% of the sample. Of the 33 patients and staff who tested positive for hepatitis B surface antigen, 30 showed complete nucleotide identity in DNA segments from the virus.

16% of 356 patients and staff tested positive for Hep B.

The unorthodox procedure of autohemotherapy involves the re-injection of a patient's own blood after it has been combined with a saline solution in a syringe. The likely cause of the outbreak was an infected bottle of saline, which was used repeatedly for the procedure.

'Autohemotherapy' re-injects a patient's blood after mixing it with saline.

In an exclusive interview with GastroHep.com News, Professor Geoffrey Dusheiko paid tribute to the Public Health team in Barnet, England, "They recognized the outbreak and, through very careful teamwork, detected the source of the infection very rapidly". He continued, "This unfortunate episode has provided us with a unique opportunity to observe pivotal immune responses soon after infection, and to observe changes during recovery. More papers will follow!"

"Unregulated skin-piercing procedures still facilitate the transmission of blood-borne pathogens."

Dr G Webster.

A 1999 report by the local Health Authority found that the clinic had no infection control procedures, and no clinical disinfectants or sterilization equipment.

This outbreak of hepatitis B, which was the largest ever seen in Europe, emphasizes the need for regulation of all skin piercing procedures.

Lancet 2000; 356: 379-384
28 July 2000

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