When a patient goes to the dentist for a regular check up and cleaning, they may expect to walk away with a new toothbrush, or a new appointment scheduled, but rarely does anyone expect to leave a dentist’s office with Hepatitis C. This was the case for one unfortunate woman in Bellevue, Washington this month. While the manner in which the woman contracted this virus may seem peculiar and a bit farfetched, this is a particularly serious matter.
Hepatitis C is a common illness in the United States. There are over 200,000 reported cases of the viral infection per year. It is treatable, however, it can be difficult to detect symptoms, and some may not realize its presence until the infection has already begun attacking the liver. Hepatitis C is particularly dangerous, claiming responsibility for nearly 20,000 deaths in the year 2014. Hepatitis C is spready through blood, and contact with other bodily fluids. It is most commonly transmitted by the sharing of needles, or unsterile tattooing equipment, and in this case, cross-contamination of medical equipment.
The process by which diseases and illnesses are spread through improperly sterilized medical equipment is known as cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can happen frequently in hospitals and doctors offices. In one particularly unfortunate example, a hospitals endoscopy equipment was responsible for the growth and spread of a superbug, a bacterial infection that is particularly resistant to antibiotics.
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