May 13, 2012

OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER “THE SUMMER OF LOVE”?

Then you may want to get tested May 18

May 13, 2012

(EVERETT, WA) -- If you had a disease that could kill you, you’d want to know about it, right? Hepatitis C is a serious disease that is highly treatable if caught early, yet it is the leading infectious cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and also is the most common reason for liver transplants in the United States.

About 75% of the 3.2 million people who have chronic hepatitis C are baby boomers.
Deaths from the Hepatitis C virus nearly doubled between 1999 and 2007 to more than 15,000, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many boomers, people age 60 and up, got the disease when they were young – often during the “Summer of Love” phase of the youth movement in the 1960’s - from unsterile tattoos, experimenting with drugs, or receiving a blood transfusion before screening was improved in 1992.

And most have never been tested for the infection. Those infected can remain symptom-free for 20 or 30 years without feeling sick.

When or if symptoms do appear, they are often a sign of serious damage to the liver.
In support of the first annual National Hepatitis Testing Day, the Snohomish Health District will offer free testing for hepatitis C on Friday, May 18 to people at high risk for the virus:

~ Persons who received transplants, transfusions or other blood products before July 1992

~ Persons who received clotting factor before 1987 for hemophilia or organ transplants

~ Persons born to hepatitis C virus-infected women

~ Persons who use or have used illegal drugs in the past

~ Persons who received tattoos, piercings or body art with unsterilized equipment

~ Persons who have sexual contact with an infected person or have a history of sexually transmitted disease

~ Men who have sex with men

Anyone interested in free testing may walk in between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or call 425.339.5298 to schedule an appointment. Come to Suite 106 in the Rucker Building, 3020 Rucker Ave., Everett, Washington.

The test is a finger stick test for those who don’t have a history of injection drug use. Drug users will receive more comprehensive testing. Clients will be contacted regarding test results within three weeks with referrals for more testing and assistance if needed.

For more information about hepatitis C see www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis.

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Jose Luis Pelaez/Getty Images
Beumel, who has hepatitis C, infected patients by injecting himself with painkillers and refilling those syringes with saline, according to authorities.

Two patients were infected, one of them fatally

By Braden Goyette / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, May 12, 2012, 10:31 AM

A former radiology technician has admitted to infecting patients at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida with hepatitis C -- one of them fatally.

Steven Beumel, 48, plead guilty to 10 crimes Friday, including tampering with a consumer product resulting in death and stealing the painkiller Fentanyl.

Between 2006 to 2008, the technician would steal syringes full of pain killers, shoot them up and refill them with saline, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In doing so, Beumel, who is infected with hepatitis C, spread the disease to patients.

Beumel's lawyer said last year that the technician didn't know he had hepatitis at the time he was tampering syringes, the Florida Times-Union reported. The former Mayo employee acknowledged to detectives that he was addicted to Fentanyl, according to an arrest report.

It took epidemiologists more than three years to solve the outbreak, and thousands of patients who were potentially at risk were tested.

Two of those tested had been infected. One of them later died from complications related to hepatitis C.

When the outbreak was linked to Beumel in August 2010, the Mayo Clinic fired him and reported him to the authorities.

Beumel was arrested by FBI agents on May 42, 2011.

He faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.

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