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No more cases of hepatitis B found among dental patients

Mission of Mercy clinic attendees still coming in for follow-up testing

September 02, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Health officials have not found any additional cases of hepatitis B among people treated at a free dental clinic last year since the announcement in June that five people developed the disease after the event.

Berkeley County Health Department Administrator Bill Kearns told Berkeley County Commissioners on Thursday that attendees notified of possible exposure in June are still coming in for follow-up testing.

About 350 people have been tested, including those who were examined at a special clinic staged in June at Martinsburg High School, according to the health department.

The three patients and two volunteers at the Mission of Mercy clinic who were infected have recovered, health officials said at a June press conference.

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Those infections surfaced in November.

Symptoms of newly acquired or acute hepatitis B typically include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, yellow color in skin or eyes, dark urine and light colored stool. The infection of the patients and volunteers surfaced within an expected six-week to six-month incubation period of the virus, officials had said.

The Mission of Mercy project was an initiative of the Healthy Smiles Partnership and was sponsored by the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle. The clinic was at Hedgesville High School in June of 2009.

Health investigators found no evidence that hepatitis C or HIV were transmitted at the clinic, but all 1,110 patients were encouraged to be tested for those viruses as well as a precaution. The clinic's 719 volunteers also were notified.

In his quarterly report to the County Commission on Thursday, Kearns also announced the Health Department would hold its first seasonal flu clinic on Sept. 10, from 9 a.m. to noon.

The $10 flu shot will include H1N1 virus protection, Kearns said.

Last year, about 12,000 seasonal flu and H1N1 flu shots were administered, Kearns said.

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