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Testing Expanded In Hepatitis C Outbreak At Exeter Hospital

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CONCORD, N.H. (CBS/AP) — New Hampshire health officials are casting a wider net as they look for people who may have contracted hepatitis C from a traveling technician at Exeter Hospital.

Public health director Dr. Jose Montero said Tuesday that testing is being recommended for anyone who had surgery at Exeter Hospital or was admitted to the intensive care unit between April 1, 2011 and May 25, 2012.

He says the testing is being expanded because the person believed to be responsible for the outbreak had access to those areas.

Testing previously had been recommended for the fewer than 1,300 people who had been treated at the catheterization lab since October 2010; the new recommendation covers about 6,000 people, some of whom might have been covered in the previous testing, Montero said. The testing recommendation doesn’t include patients of the hospital’s ambulatory surgical center.

David Kwiatkowski, a former lab technician, was charged last week with federal drug crimes.

Authorities say he’s worked in at least six states since 2007.

“Although we agree with the state that it is unlikely the additional testing in these two hospital areas will result in any new linked cases of hepatitis C, Exeter Hospital recognizes the inconvenience, anxiety and concern raised by this expansion of testing will cause for all of those patients involved and their families,” the hospital said in a statement Tuesday.

Anyone with questions should contact state health officials at 603-271-4496.

The hospital will hold public clinics at Exeter High School on Saturday July 28 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, July 29, and from noon to 8 p.m. next Monday and Tuesday, July 30 and 31.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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